Knoxville Street renamed in honor of former Austin-East basketball star

Knoxville, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knoxville man is leaving his permanent mark on the city. A road constructed in the new First Creek development in Austin will be known as “Elston Turner Drive”.

State, city leaders, loved ones and classmates gathered Monday to recognize Elston Turner Sr., in a special ceremony.

One man said, “We called it ET, and that was before the movie.”

“Just to see everyone come together like this and I tell you I’m blown away by the honor,” Turner said.

Turner has worked in professional basketball for about 40 years as a player and coach. Currently, he is an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

He said, “I’ve been gone for a while, everything is so different from what I remember.”

And what many Knoxvillians remember is how good Turner was when he played on the Austin-East basketball team.

“At the time, Austin-East had this little gymnasium that couldn’t contain us, so we hosted our games at the Civic Coliseum. Think about it. The Civic Coliseum would be packed,” recalled state Rep. Sam McKenzie.

In 1977, Turner and the Road Runners won the Class AAA state championship. Several people present at Monday’s ceremony remembered those good old days.

“The class of 1977 is awesome, awesome,” exclaimed Juanita Cannon, a former teacher at Turner.

As Turner played in college at Ole Miss and in professional leagues, he says he never forgot his roots.

He said, “I just wanted to make my family proud and come back, come home and serve my community with my time and my teaching.”

Many people believe Turner to be a true servant as he has helped support many East Knoxville projects over the years and now his name is etched on a street forever.

“Normally that doesn’t happen but additionally it usually happens when someone dies so you’re not really able to enjoy that experience. So that gave me an unforgettable memory and man , I’m happy,” Turner said.

Almost every year, Turner hosts a basketball camp in Knoxville with the Emerald Youth Christian Foundation. We will let you know when registration opens for the summer.

About Kimberly Alley

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