Julius Holt’s dear friends supporting daughter, family at CDO softball games after his passing

Lamonte Hunley recalls the friendship he and his brother Ricky developed with former Arizona football teammate Julius Holt all started with the game of softball.

The three of them met when they lived at an apartment complex near Arizona’s campus in 1981, Lamonte’s freshman year, the same season Julius transferred to the Wildcat program from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

“To be honest with you, it all started with a glove — a softball glove,” Lamonte said. “Julius needed a softball glove to play softball and he needed to borrow a glove from Ricky. In the process of borrowing that glove from Ricky, Julius has become connected with us, shoulder to shoulder.”

Lamonte said this while standing at Canyon del Oro High School’s softball field, where Julius’ daughter Julia plays as a senior with the Dorados.

Another close friend and associate who played football at Arizona — Clarence “Bam” McRae — was also in attendance when CDO played Salpointe Catholic on Wednesday. Julius served as president of the Tucson Youth Football & Spirit Federation for almost 10 years, retiring after last season, and McRae partnered with him on many projects including coaching the TYFSF 14U All-Star team annually.

Julius, who passed away from an illness Monday at age 60, was mostly present at Julia’s softball games along with his wife Lisa when Julia played with Desert Thunder Campos. He was eagerly looking forward to her gaining eligibility and playing the last 10 games with the Dorados after transferring from Salpointe this school year.

He was always at his son Justin’s practices and games when Justin played for Salpointe from 2012-15 and then at Arizona in 2016 and 2017.

Julius’ passing came a day before Julia played her first game with CDO and was the winning pitcher in relief, striking out the side in the fifth inning of an 8-0 win over visiting Sahuaro.

“Julius was a prideful man and family was the most important to him,” McRae said. “He never missed his kids’ games. Not only missing his own kids’ games — I mean, look at his work in the community and how he gave back in all the different youth organizations.

“What we want to do is make sure we’re here to support (Julia). That way, she feels as much love as she possibly can in these times. Sometimes, we’ll get out and I’ve seen her before, but right now, it’s really important we’re here for her as she goes through this process and play this beautiful game of softball that she loves.”

Lisa was in attendance Wednesday sitting at the top of the bleachers with “5” and “0” balloons filled with helium in the air tied behind her. Julius wore the No. 50 while playing defensive tackle/linebacker for Arizona in 1981 and 1982 for Larry Smith — a golden era in which the Wildcats defeated the likes of No. 1 USC, Notre Dame, UCLA and an ASU team that had its Rose Bowl aspirations vanquished at the hands of Arizona in 1982.

That was also a time that Julius, Lamonte and Ricky Hunley, Randy Robbins and many other Wildcats from that era formed an everlasting enriching bond that carries on to this day some 40 years later.

“That connection, that bond, is such a close fit,” Lamonte said. “It still is a close fit. That’s again the reason why we’re out here supporting Julia and Lisa. Part of that dynamics of being together with one another is something that we were taught with Coach Smith.

“Coach Smith believed in family. Family was most important. We lived it too. Hopefully, we pass it on to our kids just as well.”

Julia is Lamonte’s Goddaughter and Julius is the Godfather of Lamonte’s daughter Devyn.

“We’ve been together 41 years,” Lamonte said of his relationship with Julius. “Over that time period, naturally, it’s not just an acquaintance. Again, it’s become family not only directly with Julius but with his wife and kids.

“We’ve become a unit within ourselves. It becomes more than what you started with 40 years ago. … We do everything together. It’s losing one of my brothers here.”

McRae and Lamonte Hunley also spoke of how much the loss of Julius impacts not only his close inner-circle of family, friends and associates, but also the community as a whole because Julius was one of the most active and supportive advocates for youth sports development this area has ever seen.

On a personal note, out of all the youth and high school coaches and administrators I have been fortunate to come across, nobody has come close to reaching out to me as many times as Julius. He worked tirelessly for the development of our youth, extending back to the days he was an academic advisor for Arizona athletes working for the university after his playing days were over.

“Right now, it’s tough times when you lose someone of that magnitude, not only personally to me but in the community,” McRae said. “It leaves a big void. We’re trying to do our best by bonding together and tightening up the circles within our frame groups and loving on one another to help us all get through this time.

“We want to do the best to support not only the family but those who are in need of that support right now. It’s a hard time but we’ll definitely get through it. It will take time but we’ll get through it.”

Lamonte became emotional when he mentioned Julius’ work with the TYFSF helping to promote youth football and the cheeleader program within the organization.

“I hope Tucson really realizes what they lost in this man because he was a gem,” he said.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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