Missing 23 years, Raiders championship ring found

Lost during 1991 trip to see family, ring now on its way back to Hamlet

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

James S. Hamilton might think twice about washing his hands.

The former Richmond Raiders football star (Class of 1992) had taken off his class ring to clean up during a rest stop in Santee, S.C., on his way in 1991 to Charleston to visit family. Santee is approximately 60 miles southeast of Columbia. Hamilton, who played outside linebacker and defense end, hadn’t seen the ring since.

A ring belonging to former Raiders football player James S. Hamilton is on its way back to the Hamlet resident after missing for more than 25 years.

A ring belonging to former Raiders football player James S. Hamilton is on its way back to the Hamlet resident after missing for more than 20 years.

Santee Pawn Shop owner Roger Horne said he purchased the ring when it was brought to his store about a year ago. Realizing the potential sentimental value of the item, he said he contacted Richmond Senior High School.

“I talked to a lady in administration,” Horne recalled. “She said she didn’t know him, but knew of him. That was about a year ago. I just held onto it. Then I said, ‘hey, why not put Facebook to work.'”

It didn’t take long.

“He called me this morning,” Horne said, less than 24 hours after posting the item on Facebook.

Reached early Wednesday afternoon at work in Rockingham, Hamilton, 40, said he’s received between 50 and 60 messages from people trying to help return the ring to him. The first four messages or phone calls came within a span of about 15 minutes, he said.

“I didn’t even realize I did not have the ring on my finger until we were right outside of Charleston,” Hamilton said. “It was gone.”

Horne said Hamilton, who works with a mental health services agency in Rockingham, indicated he has a collection of rings from his high school and college playing days and that this was the only one missing.

“He gets to put this one back in his collection,” Horne said.

Horne said he’s shipping the ring to Hamilton at no charge. It’s a gesture for which Hamilton is grateful.

Horne’s actions, Hamilton said, “gives you that sense of faith in people again. He did not have to do that. I always hear about these stories but never would I have thought it would come my way.”

The Raiders have won seven state championships since 1978. Richmond won three straight Class 4A titles from 1988 to 1990 while Hamilton wore a Raiders uniform.

Hamilton was drafted by the NFL’s Jackonsville Jaguars in 1997 out of the University of North Carolina. He said he blew his knee out during a Monday night game in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.

Hamilton played in 16 games over two seasons with the Jaguars

Hamilton said he never had a chance to lose another ring. His mother, Richmond County resident Lonnie Hill, took from Hamilton each ring he subsequently received and stored them in a safe place.

“She didn’t even disclose to me until about a month ago where she kept them,” Hamilton said.

 

 

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