Ernie McCray blogs

Ernie McCray: Jackson and Me (and Lolli, too) Part II

Ernie McCray

Ernie McCray

EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Tucson High School and University of Arizona basketball standout Ernie McCray is a legendary figure to Tucsonans and Wildcat fans. McCray, who holds the Wildcats’ scoring record with 46 points on Feb. 6, 1960, against Cal State-Los Angeles, is the first African-American basketball player to graduate from Arizona. McCray, who now resides in San Diego, earned degrees in physical education and elementary education at Arizona. He is a longtime educator, actor and activist in community affairs in the San Diego-area. He wrote a blog for before the site ceased current-events operations recently. He agreed to continue offering his opinion and insight with about Arizona Wildcats athletics. McCray also writes blogs for

RELATED: Jackson and Me (and Lolli, too) Part I

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With Jackson and Lolli still on my mind I’m remembering how they were confidante’s of mine, two beings besides that beautiful woman of mine who kept what I shared with them in safe keeping.

Whenever I needed reassurance that everything was going to be all right with the world, I could count on Jackson and Lolli to indicate such with the love in their eyes for me that I felt every single time I was in their presence.

They heard it all during the stage of my life they were in. They heard me cry “Oh, what a pity” as I played with words to a poem I wanted to write for the children at Marvin Elementary when the children died in Oklahoma City. They felt my anguish as children succumbed to the bombs of Desert Storms I and II raining down on them.

They watched me dance in our nearby woods when Nelson Mandela walked away from the prisons in South Africa to its presidency and before he was freed they had heard me sitting next to a stream, in a lush and green grove of trees, sing:

Nelson, Nelson, Mandela.
They tried so hard to sock it to that grand fella.
But the fat lady ain’t begun to sing.
Can’t stop Mandela till freedom ring.
Can’t stop Mandela till freedom ring.
Everybody be somebody when freedom ring.
Everybody be somebody when freedom ring.

I could feel their, “Git down, Ernie! Go, bro!” because a dog’s love is unconditional. They don’t care if you sing like Lou Rawls or can’t carry a tune in a bucket (I’m somewhere in between). They just wag their tales in delight. Any time of day or night.

I loved it when we got to somewhere clean out of sight and I could lay my thoughts on them as they leaned their heads in that way dog’s analyze what’s going on. They might have been the first to ever hear me say “There’s no way!” when it came to me honoring “Proposition 187” which expected me to take part in society’s shameful and hurtful anti-immigration mentality. Four other principals stood with me. Students were my friends and I was not going to do anything that would diminish the brown skinned ones among them. Jackson and Lolli were with me on that.


I tried out a few sound-bites on them before speaking at a student rally at Cal State San Marcos to counter the hysteria surrounding “Prop 209” which was designed to end affirmative action in California. Jackson and Lolli high-fived my delivery.

They listened as I pondered how to respond to the kids at my school, in a spirit of “two wrongs don’t make a right,” in light of so many of my fellow brothers and sisters in the black community going “Yessss!” after O.J. was found “not guilty. I surely understood fully what that was all about (oh, how many of us have gone down for a crime we weren’t even around) but never-the-less I had some strong feelings about correcting past and present wrongs. Jackson and Lolli sensed my agony.

So many memories. I remember us getting drenched in a sudden downpour one cold wintry night. I remember us getting skunked. I remember a bully dog at Dog Park running around baring his teeth and growling causing a number of dogs to tremble and cower and he charged up to Jackson who braced himself in a stance that said “I might look gentle and I am but I will get out of character and eat yo’ ass up, fool!” That canine got his behind on down the line, signifying to me that there’s “dog whispering” among dogs too. I remember one afternoon acting the exact opposite of a dog whisperer as I yelled, in “dog screamer-er” fashion “JACKSON!!!!!” loud enough to wake the dead who had been deaf when they died. He had spied a stuffed KFC box sitting on a picnic blanket in front of some folks having a good time and a problem between us is he wouldn’t care what I said or asked of him if he got a whiff of some eats – but he heard me that day and I am so thankful because the folks in this scene were as tough looking as any I’ve ever seen and Jackson running off with their meal might have made them a little mean.

When I look back through all my remembering, recalling how Jackson and Lolli and I were there for each other through thick and thin as true and faithful companions, to their end, I can vouch for dogs being granted the title of Man’s Best Friend.


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