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St. Pete honors Super Bowl, state champions

Mark Parker



Councilmember Copley Gerdes (right) shares a moment with St. Pete native and Super Bowl Champion Marquez Valdes-Scantling Thursday afternoon. Photos by Mark Parker.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling said St. Petersburg made him the man he is today; that man is an entrepreneur, community servant and two-time Super Bowl champion.

Mayor Ken Welch presented two ceremonial keys to the city Wednesday. One went to Valdez-Scantling, who earned his second consecutive Super Bowl ring Feb. 11 when the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in an overtime thriller.

The other key went to Larry Murphy, who recently led the Gibbs High School boys’ basketball team to its first state title in 55 years. Valdes-Scantling addressed the young athletes seated behind him in the city council’s packed chambers.

“Make sure you have the right people around,” Valdez-Scantling said. “That’s more important than anything – having the right group of friends, the right family members that don’t want anything from you but are going to support you the right way.”

Mayor Ken Welch (left) presents Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a key to the city.

Welch called Valdez-Scantling’s journey from Lakewood High School to the National Football League a testament to the power of hard work and perseverance. The South St. Pete native was a 5-foot-6 wide receiver as a freshman, and his father, Marcellus Scantling, had to buy him a helmet so that he could play.

Valdes-Scantling rarely saw any game action and considered himself a “nobody.” That changed after his sophomore year.

In a previous interview, Marcellus said his son “went into beast mode” and began “perfecting his craft.” He also hit a growth spurt and stood 6-foot-1 as a junior. He has since added three inches.

Valdes-Scantling earned a scholarship to North Carolina State but never seemed to find his fit in two seasons with the Wolfpack. He returned home to the University of South Florida and set a receiving yardage record (879) in 2017.

Welch noted Valdes-Scantling became the first former USF Bull to catch a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. “As mayor of the City of St. Pete and a fellow Lakewood alum, I’m so proud,” he said.

“I love what you pour into our young people and what you represent in terms of the next step,” Welch added. “Business, community service – you’re doing all the right things.”

Valdes-Scantling credited childhood life lessons, God, his parents and friends who were there “every step of the way” for his success. He expressed gratitude for the city and pride in its trajectory.

Valdes-Scantling said people often assume he is a Tampa native. “Nah, I’m from St. Pete,” is his reply. “I love the ‘Burg,” he said to raucous applause.

City Council Chair Deborah-Figgs Sanders read a proclamation recognizing Valdes-Scantling as an “exemplary and shining example in entrepreneurship and athletics.” He and some childhood friends founded Sik Selection, a St. Pete-based clothing line.

Valdes-Scantling is also the CEO of Craft Tee, a local screen-printing company. Figgs-Sanders said his “diverse portfolio” includes multiple real estate holdings and a stake in a gaming company.

Figg-Sanders noted Valdes-Scantling provides homeless residents with clothing and toiletries during the offseason. His athletic prowess shined on the NFL’s biggest stages.

Valdes-Scantling caught a 32-yard heave from Patrick Mahomes with just over two minutes remaining in the AFC Championship game to set up the game-winning score in a 17-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. He then caught a 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Chiefs a 13-10 lead over the 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to come back and be part of something that is so monumental,” Valdes-Scantling told the Catalyst. “This is home for me – I’m here as much as I can be. They (the city) showed me a bunch of love that I show them.”

Marquez Valdes-Scantling with coach Larry Murphy (left), who recently led the Gibbs High School boys’ basketball team to the Class 4-A state championship.

Valdes-Scantling wasn’t the city’s only champion in city hall chambers. Figgs-Sanders, a Gibbs alum, recognized every member of the school’s basketball team and coaching staff.

The Gladiators defeated Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson High School 49-43 March 2 to claim their first state title since 1969. Welch credited Murphy for shaping young men on and off the court.

He and Councilmember Copley Gerdes also noted that the team is returning every starter from the championship squad, an almost unheard-of feat. “We’ll see you next year after the repeat,” Gerdes said.

After the presentations and pictures, Murphy said the recognition validated the coaching staff’s tireless work. He called it a “special moment” commemorating a historic season that will have a lasting impact on the kids.

“It shows them that when you’re doing things well, people are going to celebrate you, be there for you and support you,” Murphy said. “And when things aren’t going so well, they’re still out there supporting you and trying to pick you back up.”

From front left: City Council Chair Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Mayor Ken Welch, coach Larry Murphy, principal and assistant coach Barry Brown and school board member Laura Hine.


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  1. Avatar

    Sandra Simmons Holley

    March 26, 2024at10:36 am

    This is an outstanding story of hard work, dedication and perseverance. Congratulations to Coach Murphy and Mr. Scantling.

  2. Avatar

    Archie Boston

    March 26, 2024at10:00 am

    Congratulations to both honorees. Your accomplishments are stellar.

  3. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    March 24, 2024at7:47 pm

    I saw the young man catch that ball, his grandmother is in my line dance class. I am over the moon proud of him. As a Gladiator, I am ecstatic about our team winning the championship. I knew members of that 1969 team, some have passed on, but we remember the glory days. Major ‘props ‘to Coach Murphy and Mr. Scantling.

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