MeShaunda “Shaun” Pizarrur Ellis was born June 24, 1977 in Anderson. Ellis attended Westside High School in Anderson and then went on to play college football at the University of Tennessee. Ellis was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round (12th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Nicknamed Big Katt, Ellis played twelve seasons in the National Football League (NFL).
Ellis was an immediate impact player and in his rookie season with the Jets recorded 8.5 sacks. Only Hugh Douglas in 1995 with 10 sacks ranks higher in Jets history for most sacks by a rookie.
By 2009, Ellis was the longest tenured player on the Jets. Ellis led the Jets to the postseason where the Jets made the AFC Championship for the first time in 11 years. Ellis would lead the Jets to the AFC Championship for the 2nd consecutive season in 2010 as they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 19-24. On January 26, 2010, Ellis was named to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a replacement for Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis.
Ellis signed with the New England Patriots on August 7, 2011, ending his 11-year tenure with the New York Jets. During the 2011 season, Ellis played in 14 games with 14 total tackles and 1 sack. The Patriots would finish the regular season with a 13-3 record and advance to Super Bowl XLVI. It was Ellis’ first career trip to the Super Bowl. Ellis announced his retirement in 2012.
Other Notable Sports Figures From Anderson
- Lou Brissie, Major League Baseball player with the Philadelphia Athletics and Cleveland Indians from 1947 to 1953.
- Preston Jones, gridiron football player
- Brooks Hall, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher
- Rafael Little, professional football player, Canadian Football League
- Larry Nance, retired NBA basketball player with the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers
- Jim Rice, former professional baseball player with the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2009
- Ben Taylor, former Negro League professional baseball player from 1908 to 1929 and Manager/Coach from 1929 to 1940. Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2006
- George Webster, former AFL and NFL football player, two-time All American at Michigan State University, 1965-66.