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Lubbock Has a New Congressman, and His Dad is a Texas Tech Basketball Legend

Red Raider roots planted in West Texas lead all the way to Washington D.C.

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A couple weeks ago, Jodey Arrington was sworn in as the new U.S. Representative in the 19th congressional district of Texas. The district spans miles and miles of West Texas and the Big Country, including the congressman’s hometown of Plainview, Lubbock, Big Spring, and Abilene.

Before his congressional campaign, Congressman Arrington worked as a vice chancellor for the Texas Tech University System and chief of staff to Kent Hance – Hance was also a congressman representing the 19th district back in the 1980’s. Congressman Arrington received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas Tech.

But the Red Raider roots of Lubbock’s new congressman run even deeper.

Jodey’s dad, Gene Arrington, was a Texas Tech basketball player under legendary coach Polk Robinson in the late 1950’s. Arrington played alongside Gerald Myers as well, and the two were roommates during their playing days. Myers eventually became the head coach of the Texas Tech basketball team in 1970 and served as Texas Tech athletics director from 1997 until Kirby Hocutt took over in 2011.

Gene Arrington began his basketball career at Amarillo High School. Before his senior season in 1955-1956, a new school – Palo Duro High – opened its doors. Arrington and a few others made the switch, and led Palo Duro High School to a class 3-A state basketball championship during its first year of competition by averaging about 20 points per game.

Gene Arrington with Palo Duro High School teammates after winning the state championship.

As a result of his high school success, Arrington was the only Texan invited to the 1956 Cage Classic in Murray, Kentucky. He scored four points to help the South to its fourth straight win over the North, 103-95.

Offered a scholarship out of high school, Arrington began his career as a Red Raider in the 1956-1957 season. By the time he was a sophomore, Arrington had worked his way into the starting lineup alongside four juniors. According to a December 28, 1957 article in the Amarillo Globe-News, the Red Raiders became the “surprise outfit in the Southwest Conference” after a 6-0 start to the season. During that stretch, Arrington was given credit for his performance in some close games. But like any humble West Texan, he deferred credit to the aforementioned Gerald Myers.

Arrington and his friend/teammate from Palo Duro High, Robert Echols, signing with Texas Tech.

During the 1958-1959 season, Arrington helped Texas Tech kick a rival Texas team that was already down. In a season when the Longhorns only won four games, Arrington sank two clutch free throws at the end of regulation to seal a 59-57 win for the Red Raiders.

Sports Illustrated previewed the 1959-1960 season for the Southwest Conference, noting that Texas Tech led the entire league in attendance, a testament to West Texas “basketball fever.” Arrington was without a doubt the main reason for such a fever, as Sports Illustrated called him “a fine defender, shooter, and rebounder,” and “all-round [brilliant].”

At the conclusion of his senior season at Texas Tech, Arrington was named to the 1960 Look Magazine and NABC All-District teams. He led the Red Raiders with 6.7 rebounds per game, including a season-high 15 against New Mexico, as highlighted in the campus newspaper’s season recap. He also finished his career as a two-time All-Southwest Conference honoree.

Arrington wore jersey No. 34 all four seasons in Lubbock. He earned the nickname “quick fists” during his time at Texas Tech for his willingness to throw down during (or after) a game. A huge thank you to Gene’s son and Congressman Arrington’s brother, Kally, for providing these photos.