ASU football great Art Malone dies at 64

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State Hall of Famer and former NFL running back Art Malone died last Friday at age 64.
A member of the ASU football team from 1967-1969, Malone was one of many standout athletes to flourish under legendary coach Frank Kush. Malone still stands as one of the school’s most accomplished running backs with 2,649 career rushing yards, seventh on ASU’s all-time list.

“He had to be one of the best we ever had,” Kush said by phone Tuesday. “He was a disciplined kid, he was quick and he was elusive. He was probably one of the premier athletes we ever had at Arizona State.

“He was the epitome of great athletes in the state of Arizona.”

Kush recalled recruiting Malone to ASU from Santa Cruz High School in the small farming town of Eloy, Ariz. Malone’s family didn’t have much, and Kush valued the opportunity to help Malone get a college education as much as he did Malone’s athletic ability.

“The whole Malone family were exceptionally good people,” Kush said. “You could just see the family was really the type of family you’d want your family to be like. So you say to yourself as a coach you want to do everything possible to make this young guy successful. And he was.”

Malone earned Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors in 1968 when he rushed for 1,431 yards — still third-most in a single season in school history — and 15 touchdowns. He averaged 23.5 rushing attempts per game, which is still an ASU record.

The Atlanta Falcons drafted Malone in the second round, 39th overall, in 1970. He played seven seasons in the NFL, including five in Atlanta and two with the Philadelphia Eagles. He ended his professional career with 2,457 yards and 19 touchdowns rushing, and 1,465 yards and six touchdowns receiving.

Malone was inducted into the Sun Devil Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. He also worked for 22 years in the ASU athletic department, where his responsibilities included overseeing the upkeep of Sun Devil Stadium, Packard Stadium, Sun Angel Track Stadium and the Whiteman Tennis Center.

Malone’s younger brother, Benny, followed in Art’s footsteps, coming to ASU and excelling at running back. Benny Malone also joined Art in the Sun Devil Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 and in the NFL, where he played seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.

While Malone was best known at ASU for his athletic ability, Kush lauded Malone’s character, leadership and dedication to academics just as much.

“He was a good student, and I never had any problems with him socially, academically or athletically,” Kush said. “I thought he was a great leader by the display of his ability. He led not verbally, but just by his performance.”

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4, at 10 a.m., at Resthaven Park Mortuary and Cemetery, 4310 E. Southern Ave., Phoenix.