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UCLA Athletics Mourns Loss of Hall of Famer Jim Brown

May 9, 2022

UCLA Athletic Hall of Famer Jim Brown, who starred for the 1954 national championship-winning football team, passed away May 2 at the age of 87.

A 6-foot, 204-pound right guard who was a two-year letterman under head coach Henry "Red" Sanders, Brown and the Bruins went 18-2, earning a pair of Pacific Coast Conference Championships and emerged with the top prize in 1954.

A native of Minneapolis, Brown's mother moved her family to Los Angeles in 1951. Brown enrolled at Loyola High School before matriculating at Santa Clara University. When the Broncos discontinued their football program at the conclusion of his freshman season, Brown transferred to UCLA.

Brown shared time with All-American Jim Salsbury for the 1954 national title winners before himself garnering consensus All-American and All-Coast Team honors as a senior.

On Brown in 1955, Sanders stated, "Jim Brown is one of the best football players we have had at UCLA. He has never played a poor game. As an all-around guard, he doesn't back up from anyone. I haven't seen anyone whip him yet across the scrimmage line."

Sanders also said, "In addition, you've never heard [Brown] complain or alibi or explain. He just goes out and gives his team the best he has."

Brown also played rugby and was a member of the ROTC program at UCLA. Drafted by the NFL's Chicago Cardinals in 1956, he was instead commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army and served out of Fort Benning, Ga.

A business administration major, Brown embarked on a career in business when his service was complete. He worked for Connecticut General Life Insurance Company before starting FM Financial in 1967.

Brown was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

Brown is survived by his wife of 66 years, Merrilyn (Williams) Brown, herself a UCLA graduate and former song girl. The legacy they built together includes five children, 12 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.