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Famous Athletes From Buffalo #1

By Cassie Kamens

Hey Discover716 Sports Fans! Here is the first blog in a series of athletes from Buffalo:

Joe Mesi (Boxer):

Joe Mesi, also known as “Baby Joe”, was born in Tonawanda, NY on November 27, 1973. He attended Sweet Home High School where he was a three-sport athlete in football, wrestling, and baseball. At age 19, Joe picked the sport of boxing and started to define his incredible career. As an amateur, he won the New York State Golden Gloves three times in 1993, 1995, and 1996. In 1996, Joe was an alternate for the Olympics. Joe is well known for selling out areas, especially in Buffalo. He sold out Key Bank Center three times and the University at Buffalo during a Friday Night Fight (as known as

“Buffalo Blast”). In 2003, Joe won the North American Boxing Federation Heavyweight Championship and then in 2007 won the WBC United States National Boxing Heavyweight Championship. Joe Mesi went undefeated in 36 wins, 29 of these wins were by knockout. Unfortunately, a brain injury forced Joe to retire in 2007. He was inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame. He and his wife Michelle have three children together.

Rashad Evans (Boxer):

Rashad Evans was born in Niagara Falls, NY on September 25, 1979. Rashad wrestled at the Michigan State University and graduated in 2003 with a degree in psychology. It was also in 2003 that Evans began fighting in a professional ring and won five fights with the help of his mentor, Dan Severen. After this success, he was invited to be on a reality TV show about boxers named The Ultimate Fighter. When the show ended UFC offered

him a three-year contract. He won the light heavyweight championship in 2008. In 2017, E

vans tried to return to the middleweight category but was unsuccessful and retired. In a

ddition to fighting, Evans also appeared in the movies Locked Down(2010), Warrior(2011), Boss Level(2021). He is also a father of three and married to LaToya Brown.

Joe Taylor (Boxer):

See separate blog post at:

The full interview can be viewed on the discover716 sports page on IGTV.

Patrick Kane(Ice Hockey):

Patrick Kane was born on November 19, 1988 in Buffalo, NY and has been playing hockey ever since he could walk. In 2007, Kane was drafted first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks and has remained with the team since. Kane is one of the most decorated American ice hockey players of all time. In the NHL he has won three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, 2015. Kane scared the overtime winner in the Stanley Cup Game in 2010( Kane has played in 1,029 NHL games with 1,088 points accumulated by scoring 404 goals and having 684 assists. Of his 404 goals, 65 have been game winners and 9 of those have been overtime winners. He has an overall plus/minus of 62. Along with an outstanding ongoing NHL career, Kane is one of best international players on the American Team. Kane has won gold at the IIHF U18 games in 2007, bronze at the 2007 World Junior Championships, and silver at the Olympics in 2010. Kane is one of the most accomplished hockey players of all time and he is not done yet.

Joe Mack(Baseball):

Joe Mack was born on December 27, 2002 in Buffalo. He attended Williamsville East High School where he played volleyball, basketball, and baseball. While he was a standout player in all three sports, he especially excelled in baseball. He graduated from high school in June 2021 and was also drafted into the MLB in the same month. The Miami Marlins drafted Mack as the 31st overall pick. Mack is the first WNY player to be drafted since 1978 and is only the fourth player picked in the first round from WNY.

Jesse Winker(Baseball):

Jesse Winker was born on August 17, 1993 in Buffalo. In 2012, he was drafted into the MLB by the Cincinnati Red as the 49th pick. He made his first MLB debut on April 14, 2017. Overall he has been at bat 1,277 times with 366 hits, 206 runs, and 63 home runs. Thus far in the 2021 season he has 388 at bats with 117 hits, 69 runs, and 21 home runs. He was also named to the NL All-Star Team in 2021.

James Starks(Baseball):

James Starks was born on February 25, 1986 in Niagara Falls. Stark went to Niagara Falls High School where he was a standout running back and served as captain for three years. Despite his success in high school, he only received one scholarship offer from the University at Buffalo which he accepted. In the 2010 NFL draft, Starks was selected 193rd overall by the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately he was hurt at training camp and was unable to play for the first portion of the season. When he came back he was ready to roll and even helped the Packers win Super Bowl XLV in which he had 11 rushes with 52 yards. Over his career, Starks played in 76 games and rushed for a total of 2,506 yards with nine touchdowns.

Daryl Johnston(Football):

Daryl Johnston was born on February 10, 1966 in Youngstown. Johnston played for Lewiston-Porter High School also commonly known as Lew-port. Lew-port retired the number 34 after Johnston. He attended Syracuse University where he redshirted his freshman year, then played on special teams until he earned his starting spot as a fullback in 1986. In the 1989 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Johnston in the second round where he was nicknamed ‘Moose’. Johnston played in 149 consecutive game from 1989-1997. He scored 22 touchdowns, 294 receptions, 2,227 yards receiving, 232 carries for 753 yards, and won three Super Bowls. Unfortunately his playing career was cut short due to a neck injury. He also has been a broadcaster for NFL and NCAA football games.

Christian Laettner(Basketball):

Christian Laettner was born on August 17, 1969 in Angola. He attended Nichols School where he was a highly recruited power forward. Laettner attended Duke where he is the only player to start in FOUR NCAA championships, he won two of these championships, making him one of the most dominant players ever in NCAA basketball history. In one of the championship games he even scored the game winning buzzer beater( In 1992, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Laettner in the first round and was the third pick. In the NBA, he averaged 12.8 points per game, 6.7 rebounds per game, and 2.6 assists per game. He retired from the NBA in 2005 after player in Minnesota, Washington, Dallas, Detroit, and Atlanta.

Cliff Robinson(Basketball):

Cliff Robinson was born on December 16, 1966 in Buffalo. He attended college at the University of Connecticut(UConn) where they eventually retired the “00” jersey in his honor. In 1989, he was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers. Robinson played 18 seasons in which he played 1,380 games where he averaged 14.2 point, 1 block, 1 steal, 2.2 assists, and 4.6 rebounds per game. Cliff retired from the NBA in 1994. On August 29, 2020, Robinson passed away and is survived by his wife and son.

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