EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Police have recovered some priceless memorabilia belonging to football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. They've also charged two men with stealing the goods.
Two of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly's prized possessions from his football days are his Pro-Football Hall of Fame ring and Ring of Honor, from his years at the University of Miami. Both were stolen, and after nearly two years, Kelly is getting them back.
Jim Kelly's poignant acceptance speech during his induction into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame back in 2002 brought tears to the eyes of fans and players alike when he called his terminally-ill son, Hunter, his hero. Kelly actually received his Hall of Fame ring a few months later in a ceremony at Wilson Stadium.
Thieves stole that ring, and a Ring of Honor he was awarded for his outstanding play, years earlier, at the University of Miami. They were stolen from a briefcase in Kelly's car at his home in East Aurora back in August 2009. Then last April, there was a break in the case during a drug bust in South Buffalo.
Erie County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit Det. DJ Granville said, "These rings were stolen, and then the gentleman that stole them purchased a quantity of crack cocaine in exchange for the ring."
Detective Granville said Jim Kelly's college Hall of Fame ring was used to buy crack cocaine, and the two rings were later recovered in a drug bust. Evidence was then turned over to East Aurora Police, who have charged 34-year-old Eric Schmidt of West Seneca and 36-year-old Kevin Sapp, formerly of South Buffalo, with grand larceny and possession of stolen property.
Sapp is already doing time at the Oneida prison in Rome, New York on unrelated burglary charges. Detective Granville said it was an important drug bust.
"We recovered $15,000, a large quantity of crack cocaine, and a twice convicted felon off the street," said Det. Granville.
Late Friday afternoon, Jim Kelly released a brief statement, saying he is extremely grateful to police for retrieving his belongings, and arresting the thief who stole them. How much are they worth? The value of a certain other former Bills' Hall of Fame ring was estimated, in court proceedings, to be about $120,000.
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