Although he made his home in the Birmingham area, he grew up in Atlanta playing high school ball for Sylvan Hills High. After leading the Bears to two state championships he went on to become an SEC Legend at Auburn University.
It was hard to believe the news that he had passed away last Tuesday. It hadn’t seemed all that long since I talked with him in February at the Tiger Trail reception in the Auburn Arena. Always approachable, Lee DeFore was one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet.
One of his former team mates Bill Alexander said he remembered him as a man of “Absolutely impeccable character.” A true Auburn man, Alexander continued, “And we could see his basketball skills from a statistical perspective. They speak for themselves.”
And speak they did. Lee was the first Auburn Basketball player to ever score 1,000 points. He was a three time All-SEC player and was named All-American in 1966.
One of the best shooters to ever come through Auburn, he scored over 30 points seven different times. The Team Captain led the Tigers in scoring all three years and led the conference his last year.
He set nine school records, averaged 24 points per game in 1966-67 and finished 11th in the nation in free throw percentage (.853). When he left Auburn for the New York Knicks, he did so as the Tigers’ all-time scoring leader.
Even after more than 40 years, he still ranks 5th on Auburn’s all-time scoring average with 19.0 points and 16th in all-time scoring with 1,386 points.
In 2006 he was named to Auburn’s All Century Team and was featured at the Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament that same year as an SEC Legend.
Lee had been an active Alumni member and was at one time the president of the Auburn Letterman’s Club. His passing is a big loss for the Auburn Family – and even bigger one for his immediate family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.