On April 30 the historic Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, home to some of the greatest names in all of sports including Hank Aaron, Vince Lombardi and Oscar Robertson, celebrated its 65th anniversary by inducting two new members: Green Bay Packers all-time leading wide receiver Donald Driver and record-setting, retired Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball Coach Bo Ryan. At the induction event attended by over 2,500 fans, the duo were presented with their official Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame bronze plaques which will soon join the other 135 plaques that currently comprise the Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame in Milwaukee’s downtown sports and entertainment district.
On hiatus since 2009, the revival of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame comes after the entity was purchased by Milwaukee-based Lammi Sports Management in 2014. Moving forward, the institution will host annual induction events. The Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is maintained through the support of community partners Associated Bank, the Official Bank of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame, Hupy & Abraham, Goodwill Industries and West Bend Insurance.
In addition to Driver and Ryan, a number of other prominent athletic icons were recognized at the Hall of Fame event, including: Packers great Jerry Kramer with a Legendary Team Award celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Packers victory in Super Bowl I; former Milwaukee Bucks owner, retired United States Senator and current philanthropist Herb Kohl with a Community Leadership Award; East Troy High Schooler M.E. Dodge with a Female High School Athlete of the Year Award; and Sam Hauser and Trevor Anderson with Co-Male High School Athlete of the Year Awards.
“This is a moment I will cherish for a long time,” Driver said. “I’ve always felt incredibly honored just to be able to say I was a Packer, but now I can also say I’m a Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Famer, and that’s something truly special. Someday, a long, long time from now, I look forward to strolling through the Walk of Fame with my grandkids and being able to say ‘See, your grandpa could play some ball!’”
"Thank you to the 2,500-plus that were in attendance to welcome back the WI Athletic Hall of Fame,” said Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Executive Director Brian Lammi. “The 65th anniversary celebration was a tremendous success. Congratulations to Donald Driver and Bo Ryan on their induction into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame."
The lively event kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem by former “The Voice” contestants Andi & Alex and also featured performances by the Milwaukee Bucks Dancers and Drumline, and the Wisconsin Badgers Band.
In an effort to support the growth of future Hall of Famers, the event also included a silent auction with all proceeds going to benefit the RBI Baseball Program at the Greater Milwaukee Boys & Girls Clubs.
Donald Driver’s induction comes after a record-setting 14 year NFL career with the Green Bay Packers. A seventh-round draft pick in 1999, Driver set the franchise’s all-time marks for career receptions (743) and yards (10,137) and has more 1,000 yard seasons (seven) than any other player in franchise history. A four-time Pro Bowl performer, Driver is widely considered to be one of the best receivers of his generation. In 2010, Donald helped lead the Packers over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, earning Donald his first Super Bowl ring and the Packers a record 13th world championship. With an ever-present smile and inspirational story of overcoming poverty and homelessness as a child, Driver remains one of the most popular players to ever wear a Packers uniform.
During his over 30 year career as a head coach in the state of Wisconsin, Bo Ryan worked tirelessly to grow the game. As the coach of UW-Platteville, Ryan led the school to a 353-76 overall record while guiding the program to the highest winning percentage (.908) of any school in college basketball during the ‘90s. Ryan also steered the Pioneers to unprecedented tournament success, winning four Division III national championships while compiling a 30-5 NCAA Division III tournament record. After two years at UW-Milwaukee, Ryan took over as the head coach of the Badgers and firmly established both himself and the program among the best in the country. During his tenure, Ryan’s Badgers won a school-record 364 games, seven Big Ten titles and made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, including back-to-back Final Fours in 2014-2015. In 2015, Ryan took home his fourth Big Ten Coach of the Year honor, trailing only Purdue's Gene Keady (7) and Indiana's Bob Knight (5) for the most conference coach of the year awards.
The Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame, located on 4th Street in Milwaukee’s downtown sports and entertainment district, contains bronze plaques commemorating the 137 members of the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. The Walk of Fame is free and open to the public 365 days a year.