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Super Bowl all in the family for Lee

South Boston News
Frank Lee, left, with his nephew, Denver Broncos linebacker Paris Lenon. (Submitted photo) / January 30, 2014

At first glance, there may be no reason for local football fans to have a rooting interest in this year’s Super Bowl in New Jersey, but it turns out there is a local connection after all.

Denver linebacker Paris Lenon, a former University of Richmond standout, is the nephew of South Boston’s Frank Lee.

The Broncos and Seattle Seahawks square off in East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday, and the Lee clan will be watching the big game with great interest.

Lee’s younger sister, Audrey Lenon, is married to 6-foot-6 ex-basketball player Paris Lenon, who played CIAA basketball at North Carolina Central. The couple had two children, including Paris, now in his 14th year in the NFL, will have a key role trying to contain the Seahawks, led by former N.C. State and Wisconsin standout Russell Wilson, a product of the Collegiate School in Richmond. Paris’ older sister is Nicole Johnson, who is married to the son of former GW-Danville boys’ basketball coach Harry Johnson.

Lee has talked with the Broncos linebacker several times heading up to the big game Sunday. Lee’s son, Keith, a former Virginia baseball star, and Lenon are first cousins. “I pretty much stay in touch through Keith, my son. They’re always on the horn together,” Lee said.

Lenon followed the younger Lee’s athletic career when he played for the Cavalier baseball program. Now, the family is very proud of the Broncos linebacker’s progress and excited to see a close relative involved in the nation’s top sporting event.

Lee has always tracked Lenon’s progress.

“I’ve kind of watched him since day one, and knew he had a passion for sports, and that his father played. And, of course (Paris) followed his cousin. He had a lot of ability. He continued with that.

“You’ve got to have a passion for something. (Paris) did play some baseball. He played a little basketball. I think his first love was football,” Lee said.

Lee said he is not going to the game, although the Lenon family will be there in force. Lee plans to watch the Super Bowl at home, with a comfortable seat away from the elements in New Jersey this weekend. “My lucky seat,” laughed Lee.

Lee also admires the “preparation and and determination and dedication (Lenon has demonstrated). He’s been with a number of teams. He was with the Memphis Maniax at one time, and that’s the XFL.”

Lenon also played in Europe, had a stint with the Green Bay Packers, and even was a member of the Detroit Lions during their infamous 0-16 campaign. Lenon also has seen duty with the Rams, Cardinals and now Broncos.

“At one time, (Lenon) had a stretch of 2-38 in terms of games he had played in, but through it all, he’s maintained his dedication to the sport and the work to keep himself ready,” Lee said. Lenon is now 36.

Lee, who has a consequential athletic resume of his own, feels fortunate to celebrate the accomplishments of the family. Lee was inducted into the Halifax County/South Boston Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.

“We’ve been blessed to have a love of sport, and just try to maintain health and happiness, just trying to have some balance,” said Lee.

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