Catching up with sports standout Luther Elliss

Luther Elliss Enlargephoto

Luther Elliss

Ever wonder what happened to the student who shattered two backboards while playing basketball for Mancos High?

Luther Elliss said, "I don't know as that's a great way to be remembered here in my hometown." But when I told him that one of those backboards was still being stored in our shed, he smiled and said, "I'll take it off your hands."

Luther was born at Port Hueneme Naval Base in California in 1973. His parents, Jack and Segaula Elliss, came back to Mancos, Jack's hometown, before Luther was old enough to start attending school. Luther thus grew up here in Mancos along with his brother, Ben, and his sister, Leilani. He also had two half-sisters, Jeanette and Christy and a half-brother, Jack E. Elliss IV.

While attending Mancos High, Luther was named All League, All District and All State in football, basketball and track. The University of Utah recruited him and at the end of his junior year he married Rebecca Clinger. As No. 83, he left the University of Utah having been All-American, All-Conference and Conference MVP of the year.

When I asked what he majored in he grinned and said, "I never graduated, but I was majoring in business management. All I lack now is an internship and I'll able to accomplish it as owner of Trinity Armor, which does light manufacturing for the military."

Luther was 20th in the NFL draft, and the Detroit Lions picked him. For nine years he was a defensive lineman for that team. He was twice picked as All-Pro and twice Rebecca was able to sit on the sidelines and watch him play in the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

Luther decided to become a free agent and the Broncos picked him up. At that point, he and Rebecca had eight children. After playing for the Broncos for one year, he opted to leave football behind altogether.

"I looked at my family, and knew I couldn't take the chance of getting seriously hurt and as I looked around, I realized life goes on after football. And two things made me look at my life more deeply. One was my family of 11 children, six of whom are adopted. The other was my devotion and my love and passion for my Lord Jesus Christ.

When I asked Luther if he ever intends to move back to Mancos, he replied, "I doubt it, but I'll always come back to visit, and Mancos will always be my hometown."

Luther is living in Salt Lake with Rebecca and their children Kaden, Olivia, Christian, Noah, Isaiah, Isabel, Sophia, Jonah, Micah, Elijah and Mia."

Darrel Ellis is a longtime historian of the Mancos Valley. Email him at