By Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — Men of Valor have been defined as men with three distinct characteristics, strength, courage and passion. During this Black History Month Celebration, several of those mighty African American men will be recognized in this space. Asking no one’s permission, they have been influencers, change agents, and visionaries for decades. we begin our series with three of Knoxville’s entertainment legends.
Cylk Cozart, a man who will be the first to tell you how much he loves and honors his mother; wears many hats. Knoxville’s own actor, director, writer and producer, he recently was recognized for his film work on “Inherit The Land”, receiving the Hollywood Film Festivals award for Best Historical Documentary. In addition, Cylk, one of the original stars in the movie, “White Men Can’t Jump”, has appeared in over 30 movies and television shows and is also a former basketball star, martial artist, and model. Cozart recently added to his accomplishments the title of businessman as he introduced to the world his own brand of blended Tennessee whiskey simply called Cylk.
Sterling Henton aka: D.J. Sterl the Pearl is the energy and enthusiasm behind the 100,000 plus Vol for Life fans who fill the stadiums and arenas during the University of Tennessee football and basketball games. A positive and upbeat businessman who has suffered great loss during the pandemic, losing over 32 family and friends; Henton, a former Vol quarterback himself, never misses an opportunity to remind the crowds at U.T., and in the Knoxville community where he is a role model for youth; to look on the bright side of life. Sterl also has two weekly radio shows with an international fan base, broadcasting from W.J.B.E. 99.7 FM/1040 AM. radio in Knoxville.
Elston Turner, say the name Elston in Knoxville and you will invoke stories of one of the greatest basketball teams to ever come out of Austin East High School and Knoxville Tennessee. Born and raised in the inner city, he was a basketball natural. He played with the Mighty Mighty A.E. Roadrunners. Their 1977 state championship team brought home the first ever AAA championship for the school and the first for the whole city since 1951. The whole team was so talented, the games had to be held at the civic coliseum and when the team won the state championship they were escorted to and from the games out of town with 50 car caravans and police escorts. At the heart of the team was Elston, known fondly as E.T., one of the best players ever; chosen as All American and All SEC, Turner went on to play professional basketball for 20 years and has been a coach for over 20 years in the NBA. Turner never forgot where he came from and for over 20 years has returned to his hometown of Knoxville to hold basketball camps for talented young boys and girls every summer in the gym of his alma mater A-E.