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Lions great, Pro Football Hall of Famer Yale Lary dies at 86

Detroit Lions great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Yale Lary died Friday morning, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced. The former safety, who logged an 11-year career (1952-53, 1956-1964) that was interrupted by his service in the U.S. Army, was 86.

Lary was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979 after a career in which he was named All-NFL five times, voted to nine Pro Bowls and selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s.

"On behalf of my family and the Detroit Lions, I would like to extend my deepest, personal sympathies to Mary Jane and to his children Yale, Jr. and Nancy Jane on the passing of Yale," Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford said in a statement. "As his Hall of Fame career indicates, Yale truly was one of our all-time great players and one of the greatest of his generation. As good as he was on the field, he also was a genuinely wonderful person, one whose company and friendship Mr. Ford and I greatly cherished."

Lary, who worked as the Lions' punter and kickoff returner in addition to defensive back, logged 50 career interceptions en route to helping the Lions win three NFL titles.

"Yale Lary was a true American hero," Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement. "He was defined by his heart and character that made him one of the game's greatest players. Yale led by example and raised the level of all his teammates that resulted in multiple league titles for the Detroit Lions. Those same traits were on display during his service to our country as a member of the United States Army.

"Yale Lary lived a life of character that will serve as great inspiration to generations of fans. His legacy will forever be celebrated at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio."

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