HOUSTON – The American Heart Association is hosting an awards ceremony tonight in Houston, and two Virginians who have an unlikely connection will be honored.
Frank Beamer, who coached the Virginia Tech Hokies for 29 years, will receive the 2019 Paul "Bear" Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award. Johnny Oates will also be honored during tonight's ceremony, sharing his story of overcoming a fatal heart condition and fully returning to sports.
Oates' grandpa and Beamer both knew each other and went to Virginia Tech at the same time -- Beamer played for the football team, and Oates played for the baseball team.
Grandpa Johnny Oates went on to play baseball professionally and was the manager for the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers.
Johnny Oates, from Chester, now plays for the Virginia Cardinals showcase team and for his high school team at Thomas Dale.
Oates was born with a heart defect called anomalous left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery, which was not found until he was 10 years old. The condition meant that his left coronary artery was not attached to the aorta and was supplying the heart with deoxygenated blood. He had surgery that year to fix the problem.
“I am honored to share my story at the Paul 'Bear' Bryant Awards,” says Oates. “It is so important to raise awareness along with the American Heart Association for all heart-related conditions and patients of all ages.”
The Coach of the Year Award will also be announced live tonight during the ceremony, recognizing the country's top college football coach both on and off the field.