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Ron Bellamy pens thank-you to West Bloomfield, as he heads to U-M after leading Lakers to first title

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, January 25, 2021, 1:01 pm

If the rule is to leave someplace better than you found it, Ron Bellamy certainly embodied that stricture in his dozen years on the sidelines with West Bloomfield’s football program. 

The former University of Michigan and NFL wideout took over a program that had been an afterthought in the football-rich Oakland Activities Association, and turned it into a powerhouse, both in recruiting and on the field — and finally a state champion on Saturday.

Monday morning, he penned a goodbye letter on social media, thanking the West Bloomfield community for his time there, leaving the program to return to his alma mater as a coach on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan staff. 

“I’ve always leaned on my faith and sometimes you have to make tough decisions. This past weekend has been very special to my family and I,” Bellamy wrote as part of his social media post. “Many tears were shed, because it has always been about love. I will forever be a Laker!” 

Bellamy took over a Lakers program in 2010 that had just five winning seasons between 1994 and his hiring, and hadn’t had a winning decade since the 1970s.  Even going 3-6 in his first season, and 2-7 each of the next two, he leaves having led the Lakers to a 77-41 mark and a pair of state title game appearances, culminating in Saturday’s 41-0 win over Davison for the Division 1 championship. 

The Lakers have made the playoffs every year since 2014, going 41-9 over Bellamy’s final four seasons. 

“It’s surreal. This feeling is so surreal,” Bellamy said Saturday. “We waited so long for this moment, and it hurt — these last few years, since we last played at Ford Field, I can tell you, man. In my power, and in my coaches’ power, we want to develop a champion, and we’ve been so close, but so far.”

The so close included the 2017 season, when the Lakers started 0-2, then ripped off 11 straight wins before falling to OAA Red rival Clarkston in the finals, 3-2. 

West Bloomfield also became a regular stop on the recruiting trail for nearly every high-level coaching staff, with the Lakers churning out top-notch talent. This year’s prospect haul included Mr. Football finalist Donovan Edwards, who has already begun classes at Michigan, along with Maxwell Hairston (Kentucky), Gavin Hardeman (Air Force) and Jordan Hoskins (Missouri State). Last year, it was Makari Paige and Anvil Award winner Cornell Wheeler (Michigan), Sterling Miles (Cincinnati) and CJ Harris (Ohio), following on the heels of Lance Dixon (Penn State), Tre Mosley (Michigan State) and Tyron Broden (Bowling Green), just to name a few.

From Louisiana, the 39-year-old Bellamy played at Michigan from 1999-02, starting in 25 of 36 games played, and grabbing 67 catches for 888 yards and nine touchdowns. After going undrafted by the NFL, he spent time with the Miami Dolphins (2003, 2004), Baltimore Ravens (2005) and Detroit Lions (2007, 2008), before being waived in the last round of cuts after the 2008 preseason. 

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The full text of Bellamy’s thank-you note on social media:

Thank you West Bloomfield.

Twelve years ago God sent me to West Bloomfield to do his work. The West Bloomfield community welcomed my wife and I with open arms. My kids were born and immediately became a part of the football program, WBHS, and the community. I’ve become a better man, husband, father, and coach because of the experiences I gained throughout my time at WB. I’m forever grateful for my experiences, the good times and the not so good times that helped mold me into a better teacher, mentor, and coach.

Thank you to all of our players, coaches, and amazing medical team who have dedicated their time to help put West Bloomfield on the map as a State Powerhouse in football. Special thanks to our parents who trusted me with their kids, that’s a huge commitment and I hope I made you proud. 

Lastly, I would like to thank the leaders at West Bloomfield for the love and support that has been delivered every year. I’ve always leaned on my faith and sometimes you have to make tough decisions. This past weekend has been very special to my family and I. Many tears were shed, because it has always been about love. I will forever be a Laker! 

LBoyz 4 life (heart emoji)