Joe Delaney Memorial Highway Signs Raised on I-435 on 38th Anniversary of His Death

Delaney's memory has lived on through various memorials and projects nearly 40 years after his tragic death.
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On June 29, 1983, Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney died while attempting to save three children who were drowning. Exactly 38 years later, signs have been raised along I-435 outside of Arrowhead Stadium, marking the stretch of highway in Delaney's name.

Chiefs team reporter Matt McMullen tweeted about the new memorial on Tuesday, introducing the latest way that Delaney has been remembered decades after his passing. writes that the two signs honoring Delaney are placed near state Highway 350 and at I-435 and Raytown Road, a two-mile stretch that Chiefs fans should drive past on their way to and from Arrowhead Stadium.

In a November 1983 edition of Sports Illustrated, the late Frank Deford wrote about Delaney's death in a story headlined, "Sometimes the Good Die Young." The following is an excerpt from Deford's piece.

Had he lived, Delaney last Sunday would have celebrated his 25th birthday while playing against the Broncos. But on June 29, 1983 he died, a gentleman and a hero, in Monroe, at Chenault Park, around two in the afternoon.

There was a huge hole there, carved out of the earth some time ago. The hole had filled with water, and three boys waded in. They didn't know it, but a short way out the bottom dropped off precipitously, and suddenly the boys were in over their heads and thrashing and screaming. There were all sorts of people around, but only Joe dashed to the pond. There was a little boy there. "Can you swim?" he asked Joe.

"I can't swim good," Joe said, "but I've got to save those kids. If I don't come up, get somebody." And he rushed into the water.

One boy fought his way back to the shallow part. The other two didn't. Neither did Joe Delaney, 24. He was hauled out a few minutes later, dead. He gave his own life trying to save three others.

God rest his soul.

To read Deford's full story in the Sports Illustrated Vault, click here.