By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It makes sense Lee Chapman took to sports. His father was a successful coach at Marshall U High School in the 1940s and 50s.

But this story is about another coach: Ray Ross.

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Chapman played basketball for Ross at Washburn High School in 1955, when he coached the team to a state title.

“He was really a great guy. He was probably not a fundamentals coach, but he was a great bench coach,” Chapman said. “He was really good at handling people, disciplinarian, never swore.”

Ross gave Chapman a box years later, which he never opened until last year — 40 years later.

“As I got around to cleaning my closet and I found all this stuff,” Chapman said. “That’s when I got the idea of getting him into the [High School Sports] Hall of Fame.”

Lee Chapman and Ray Ross in 1955 (credit: CBS)

It brought back many memories of playing in Williams Arena in the state tournament.

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“All I ever wanted to do was play in that state tournament,” he said. “It was wild … standing-room only to get into the game.”

Chapman began a campaign to get his old coach into the Hall of Fame, 60 years after that state title run.

“It meant a lot because he should have been, and it was just the fact that when he quit coaching and when my dad quit coaching, there wasn’t a hall of fame,” Chapman said.

Back in the day, basketball was king in Minnesota, and the Minneapolis City Conference was the biggest.

Lee Chapman and the Millers were able to celebrate a state championship season; one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments that helps make your life. And when something like that touches you, you never forget the way it made you feel.

It meant a lot for Chapman to get that coach in the hall of fame, because even at age 80, he knows what his coach did for him.

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“He taught us discipline, responsibility, teamwork,” Chapman said. “I mean, that’s why we had 15 players on team, and every one of them got to play at least a quarter of every game that we had.”

Mike Max