Sports Legends: Living Up To His Potential

You don’t believe in love at first sight? Then you don’t know the story of Jimmy and Carol Nichols Ney. They met in kindergarten and never looked at anyone else, not while Jimmy was playing Gra-Y football, Atlanta Northside high school football and certainly not Furman University football. They were married by then.

That was 47 years ago. Together they raised three beautiful children: Lynn Ney Smith, 46; Karen Ney Tracey, 41; and Arden Ney Brewer, 36.

The first time I met Jimmy was in 1958. Northside High School had just won the State Class AAA football championship, and I attended the team’s victory banquet.

Among the prestigious awards presented that night was the award for the most valuable player on the “B” team – the Bobby Fine Memorial trophy. It went to James Michael Ney, a 135-pound end who led the team in tackles, pass receptions and demonstrated leadership.

The award was an omen of things to come. He was chosen vice-president of his junior class. His future bride ran for president of the junior class and Jimmy was her campaign manager. She was elected. He was elected president of his senior class. He was named co-captain of the varsity football team, all-city and all-state.

He played basketball and was named “Best Hustler.” He was one of the leading hitters on the baseball team. In three years at Northside, he won 14 varsity letters.

Since then, he has led his college alma mater in gift-giving, taught Sunday School classes at two different churches and has been chosen one of the best attorneys in America.

If there ever was an All-American boy, it was Jimmy Ney.

He received a football scholarship to Furman University in Greenville, S.C., and had athletic scholarship offers from Florida State University and Georgia Tech.

It was a good thing for Furman that Ney selected the South Carolina school, not so much for his football prowess but for what he would contribute to the university in time, leadership and money.

He has served 18 years on the Furman Board of Trust-ees and is a past recipient of the Bell Tower Award, emb-lematic of the outstanding alumnus of the university.

He was named to the Furman Benefactors Circle, which recognizes those whose giving to the university exceeds $1 million.

He graduated from Furman in three years with an undergraduate degree in business administration. He got the urge to become a lawyer so he entered the University of Georgia Law School. Nothing changed – once a leader, always a leader.

He was chosen president of the law school student body, a member of the Law School Board of Governors and was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

He earned his law degree in two years.

He has had an outstanding legal career. He is a founding partner of the prestigious Atlanta law firm of Holt, Ney, Zatcoff & Wasserman, with offices in the One Galleria building. The firm has 17 attorneys and 35 paralegals.

For the past 25 years he was selected one of the best attorneys in America by the publication Best Lawyers in America. Atlanta Magazine named him one of “Geor-gia’s Super Lawyers.”

Now about community service. He is a past recipient of the Cobb County award for outstanding community service. For the past five years he has been on the Board of Directors of the Cobb County Public Library Foundation.

He is past president of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, a past chairman of the Board of Dea-cons of the Northside Baptist Church and a Sunday School teacher both at Mount Bethel United Methodist and Northside Baptist.

The Neys are native Atlantans who now live in Marietta. They attended school together in every grade from kindergarten through high school.

Although they are now 66 years old, they look 10 years younger.

What more is there to say about Jimmy Ney? I would say that he has his priorities in order. With all his community and professional involvement, his family has always come first – his wife, his three daughters and his seven grandchildren.

When I asked him what has been the happiest day of his life, he replied “My first day in kindergarten when I first laid eyes on Carol. We were five years old.”

Categories: Legends