Black History Month – Health & Fitness Achievements Pt. II

We continue our celebration of Black History Month, recognizing individuals making strides in health and fitness! Last week, we celebrated Donna Richardson-Joyner. This week, we celebrate the accomplishments of three living legends that broke down barriers to become “firsts” as African-Americans in the athletic training field.

According to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), only two percent of athletic trainers are African-American. Not only do we recognize them for breaking barriers, we also recognize them for being some of the most respected professionals in the athletic training career field!


Dr. Marsha Grant-Ford – First African-American woman to become a Certified Athletic Trainer. Dr. Grant-Ford has published numerous articles and held various positions to include currently serving as an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and Physical Education at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy of Montclair State University)


Keith Jones – First African-American and youngest head athletic trainer in the NBA when he joined the Clippers’ in 1990, at age 28. Jones has over 20 years of experience as an NBA Athletic Trainer and was named the 2001 NBA Trainer of the Year. He has served as an athletic trainer on six USA Basketball teams; 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Jones currently works as the Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations/Head Athletic Trainer for the Houston Rockets. (Photo courtesy of

Ronnie_Barnes_NFLRonnie Barnes – First African-American NFL Athletic Trainer. Barnes has been a member of the New York Giants sports medicine staff for over 30 years. He now serves as Head Athletic Trainer and VP for medical services. He has earned numerous awards including the 1996 National Athletic Trainers’ Association Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award, a 1999 National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame inductee, two-time National Professional Athletic Trainer of the Year by the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society, the 1999 March of Dimes Man of the Year and the Ed Block Courage Award as a member of the NFL Athletic Training Staff of the Year in 1999. (Photo courtesy of

Thank you to Dr. Marsha Grant-Ford, Ronnie Barnes, and Keith Jones for your accomplishments and for becoming pioneers in field of Athletic Training.

Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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