Chiefs' Joe Delaney honored with memorial highway 38 years after his death

·2 min read

Joe Delaney now has a memorial in the Kansas City area.

The former Kansas City Chiefs running back, who died 38 years ago on Tuesday trying to save multiple children from drowning, officially had a highway named after him near Arrowhead Stadium.

The Missouri Department of Transportation unveiled signs declaring the Joe Delaney Memorial Highway on Interstate 435 near the Truman Sports Complex on Tuesday, according to the Kansas City Star.

Joe Delaney of the Kansas City Chiefs
Joe Delaney died in 1983, after his second season with the Chiefs, trying to save multiple children from drowning in a lake. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

The idea was led by a New York-area lawyer and longtime Chiefs fan, who wanted to honor Delaney who “clearly made the world a better place during his life,” per the Kansas City Star.

Delaney died trying to save 3 children

Thirty-eight years ago on Tuesday, Delaney jumped into a man-made pond in Chennault Park in Monroe, Louisiana, to try and save multiple children.

Delaney, despite not knowing how to swim, rushed in to try to save the three children. It’s believed that Delaney pulled up one of the boys, 10-year-old LeMarkits Holland, to safety. Delaney and two 11-year-olds, Lancer Perkins and Harry Holland Jr., all drowned before help arrived.

He was 24.

His death came after two seasons with the Chiefs. Delaney ran for 1,121 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie season in 1981, which earned him AFC Rookie of the Year honors. Though he battled injuries in his second season, there was little doubt that he had a big future in the league.

Delaney — who was survived by his wife and three young daughters — has been honored countless times in the years that followed. He received a Presidential Citizens Medal from then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, he was inducted into the Chiefs' Ring of Honor and had his No. 37 retired. A memorial was erected at the site of his death last year.

Now, though it’s just a small symbolic gesture, Delaney has a memorial in his honor in Kansas City — one that countless people will pass by in the years to come.

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