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Davis Kept Grave Diagnosis a Secret from Many

May 18, 1963 - An aunt of Ernie Davis said today the family was totally unaware the star athlete had been near death. The 23-year-old Davis (pictured last year), an all-America halfback at Syracuse and winner of the Heisman Trophy, died early today in Cleveland of leukemia. “We didn’t know at all,” Mrs. Angeline McLee said as she choked back the tears. “We were shocked. His mother didn’t know, but she thought I would have. But I didn’t. Ernie always confided in me. I was like a sister to him. In fact, he always called me ‘his sister.’ My own mother raised him until he was in the seventh grade, and we were very, very close.” Mrs. McLee is uncertain as to whether Ernie knew he was dying. “If he did, we didn’t know about it,” she said. Mr. Davis’s mother’s only statement today was that the death of her son was “a terrible shock.”


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