By JIMMIE TRAMEL Tulsa World Sports Writer
Then&now: This summer the Tulsa World will catch up with people and stories that helped shape our sports culture. The stories will run periodically in the coming weeks. Today: Litefoot
LITEFOOT – MAYBE you know him as Gary Davis, Metro Christian Class of 1987 – is an American Indian rapper, motivational speaker and actor who has his own record label and clothing line. He’s developing his own branded line of sneakers, the Litefoot Flex Arrow. His film credits include a starring role in a 1995 film, “The Indian in the Cupboard.”
Maybe you spotted him in “Adaptation” or “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” or doing guest spots on TV shows like “Family Law” or CSI: Miami.”
How does this story wind up on a sports page? Because Litefoot credits lessons he learned from football for putting him on the path for a successful life.
Litefoot was, for a brief period, a receiver at the University of Tulsa. He said he was a walk-on (nonscholarship) player during George Henshaw’s only season as head coach. If you need a time-capsule snapshot of that era, David Rader was a first-year TU assistant, Union coach Kirk Fridrich was a redshirt freshman defensive lineman, Dennis Byrd was a starting junior defensive tackle, T.J. Rubley hadn’t yet thrown a collegiate pass and Dan Bitson had never caught a collegiate pass.
Steve Hegdale was a senior starter on the offensive line. Hegdale is germane to the plot.
“My brother-in-law played there and that’s what caused me to go there,” Litefoot said, referring to Hegdale. “I really looked up to him.”
Litefoot had what could be categorized as a typical walk-on experience: All work, no play. He said he never got in a game. But he also said it was “definitely worth it” because he got exactly what he wanted out of the experience. Elaboration? Litefoot said you learn resilience when you are an athlete, especially at the college level. And he’s glad he chose the difficult road – trying to make it with a Division I-A team – instead of an easier one.
“A prevailing theme throughout my life is to truly follow your heart and not do what everybody else says was the obvious choice,” he said. “That served me well through all these years.” Litefoot intended to bulk up and move to tight end after his rookie season, but weightlifting-gone-bad resulted in a vertebra stress fracture.
“That kind of caused me to take a step back for a second when I got hurt,” he said. “I paused for a second and that’s when I really got into music.”
Litefoot visited his sister, who was pursuing music interests in Los Angeles. She asked him to write a rap for one of her songs. A career was born.
After Litefoot had garnered enough attention to be offered a record deal, he said the label didn’t want him saying anything about being an American Indian because that apparently wouldn’t move any records. Litefoot, who is Cherokee, was unwilling to compromise.
“I started my own record label (Red Vinyl Records) and started putting my own music out,” he said, indicating that he worked at Woodland Hills Mall and mowed lawns to funnel money into his own record label. Now he has offices on both coasts.
According to bio material on Litefoot.com, Litefoot’s lyrics are used to teach high school and college-level students about historical and contemporary American Indian issues and views. Over the past five years, he has traveled throughout the U.S. in an attempt to bring hope and empowerment to more than 450 American Indian communities on a “Reach The Rez Tour.”
Litefoot and wife Carmen have two sons. Despite globetrotting, Litefoot finds time to coach his oldest son’s youth football team. He said the values and principles that can be learned in football “are more relevant to kids now than when I played.”
Read more from this Tulsa World article at: TULSA WORLD LITEFOOT ARTICLE