Remembering Defender Sports Editor Gifford “Max” Edison Jr., dead at 63

“The true character of a man is not defined by what he does in front of a crowd but instead by what he does when no one else is around.” Anonymous

            Gifford “Max”Louis Edison Jr. was a man of character and of many talents. Some would even call him a character. He shared his love in various ways. For almost three decades I watched Max work, play and enjoy life to the “Max.” 

Husband, Father, Son, and Brother

            I first met Max when our kids were going to the Imani School.  He and his wife Judeene, who he described as the beauty and brains, have three children [Natalie, Jayson, and Nicole] and our kids became friends.  He loved his family using his sports connections to support his wife’s philanthropic activities with Covenant House, taking his kids to sporting events, talking about his grandson, Kahleal and loving his mother and brother. We had breakfast a few weeks ago as he talked about his mom being in town for a church conference and how she was a rock for the family. Our prayers are with you, family. 

Defender Team Player

 When I asked Max to join the Defender staff, he had already started his career in sports with a radio talk show.  He told me he saw the position of Defender College/Pro Sports Editor as a new adventure and a way to share his views of sports with others.  

You never had to worry about Max having an opinion, in fact you expected it and most of the time appreciated it. Sometimes he would dress up his opinion with humor making you laugh so hard while at the same time making his point. Other times, he would spare no mercy cutting deep to the bone knowing this was not a time to be nice but to be brutally frank. In fact, when we started the weekly program “Gimme-A-Minute” in Defender College and Pro Sports, Max came up with the segment “Go Sit Down”, telling owners, coaches, athletes and fans when they needed to take a seat. He loved it. Check out some of his programs at defendernetwork.com.

As a Defender team member, Max was funny with his sarcasm and quick wit along with his competitive spirit that made you like him more. When someone on the staff was sick or suffering from a personal loss, Max would call or text you offering encouraging words that would lift your spirits and you would wonder how did he know. 

Sports Colleague and Mentor

In the sports world, Max was admired by his colleagues and the athletes he covered. The Sam Houston State University graduate always covered the top talents in each sport. But he often gravitated to the younger ones and the homegrown athletes sprinkling seeds of wisdom both from a business and personal perspective. I won’t mention names but you know who you are from the Astros, Rockets, Texans and even those on the collegiate level. He constantly encouraged them to give back and seek wise counsel.  

Among sports journalists in Houston and beyond, Max was respected. Aside from his flair and unique fashion sense, Max did his job as a sports journalist very well.  In fact, one year he along with his Defender sports colleague Darrell Ardison were recognized by the National Newspaper Publishers Association as the best of the best and #1 in sports journalism among the Black Press of America. 

His love for the Super Bowl was well known among his colleagues.  When the Fritz Pollard Alliance, an affinity group of NFL minority coaches, scouts and front office personnel was formed, Max took a special interest because it was about equity and fair-play. In addition to promoting the Alliance, Max emceed multiple events for the group and participated in furthering the mission of the organization he truly believed in.   

Outside of Sports

Unlike most sports journalists, Max worked a full-time job while doing his Defender duties.  His other careers included telecommunication marketing in the early years and the highest honor/challenge of teaching high school students. He started at Hightower H.S. in the Ft Bend School district and for the last four years at Elsik H.S. in the Alief School district.  In addition to his teaching role, Max even sponsored the debate team which I’m sure was a good fit because he loved a good argument or debate. He took special interest in shaping young lives with a word of praise or reprimand never forgetting his Sweeney High School days.  He constantly promoted high standards with his straight talk and cutting candor. And the kids knew he never was short on words. 

I also saw Max demonstrate his love for GOD and his church, Windsor Village United Methodist Church. He was an avid member of the Worshiping Warriors (Male Chorus), standing on the top row left hand side. His comradery with his fellow brothers in the choir was obvious as he sang his praise to our Heavenly Father and was always available to serve whether it was making church announcements on KBC-TV or giving his input on church activities. 

Thank God for Max, He will be MISSED

            Max did an outstanding job keeping the Defender audience updated on college and professional sports at the highest level. He represented us well and he will be truly missed. The Defender team and I thank GOD for Max’s commitment and friendship.

Of course, there is so much more to the man but it’s hard to cover 63 years in an article. Hopefully, this gives you a little insight into the man– Gifford “Max”Louis Edison Jr. We loved him.