Meeting Football Legend Rosey Grier at the new Shade Hotel Redondo Beach

Attending a charity watch party event benefitting the Los Angeles Rams in Redondo Beach at the new Stand House Redondo Beach, I noticed football legend Rosey Grier talking to a group of fans. Born in 1932, he appears much younger than an 84-year-old man.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Michael Zislis invited over 30 LA Rams legends including Rosey Grier, Dennis Harrah, Nolan Cromwell and LeRoy Irvin to be his first guests at the highly anticipated phase one opening of Shade Hotel Redondo Beach. Located right next to The Cheesecake Factory, this new luxury boutique hotel, is at the center of the Redondo Beach Waterfront Revitalization Project. Each room offers stellar views of luxury boats docked in the Redondo Beach Harbor, and magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean, Catalina Island and Palos Verdes.

While guests and members of the Rams staff and fans enjoyed pulled pork sliders, sweet potato fries, panini sandwiches and chips with guacamole, we all cheered the Rams defeat the Arizona Cardinals in a 17 to 13 win. Proceeds from the event benefited the Rams Foundation.

Sitting outside the viewing room on the second level, I approached Grier and asked if I could take a photo with him. Afterwards, I discovered the greatness of a man who has outlived most of his contemporaries.

Photo by Rick Weinlein
Photo by Rick Weinlein

He is one of 12 children and named after Franklin D. Roosevelt,  who was the Governor of New York and  became President of the United States. At the age of three, Grier picked cotton, tomatoes, greens and watermelon in the fields with his family. Once he turned five, he attended school three days a week. “I didn’t get to attend school full time until I was 11 years old,” Grier shared with me.

Even though teachers told him that black children don’t go to college, Grier worked hard and got accepted into Penn State to study and play football. He was one of 50 black students among a population of over 5,000.

After college, he was drafted to the NFL New Giants from 1955 to 1962. One year later he started playing for the LA Rams and became part of the “Fearsome Foursome” with Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen and Lamar Ludy.  He stopped playing for the LA Rams when he tore his Achilles tendon.

Grier told me that he was good friends with Robert “Bobby” Kennedy and was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, when Sirhan Sirhan shot and killed him. “I took the gun out of Sirhan Sirhan’s hand,” shared Grier.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Now he works on the Milken Family Board and the Prostate Cancer Foundation. As an ordained minister, Grier is a nationally renowned motivational speaker, and has received several national and White House honors and invitations.

Walking by us was owner Michael Zislis. He mentioned, “We are excited to have the Rams back in Los Angeles, and it was a magical way to celebrate the pinnacle opening of our newest Shade Hotel.” Grier and his wife stayed overnight and he loved the room and marine views.

The first phase of the new, 54-room contemporary luxury boutique hotel opened October 2 with a celebrity ribbon-cutting event. Opposite the hotel, along the waterfront is a standalone three-level fully-dedicated culinary building, with party and event space that can accommodate up to 250 guests.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

With the phase one opening, Shade Redondo Beach is welcoming guests. “The next two to three weeks I will be working non-stop,” shared Zislis. The entire hotel and in-house restaurant is scheduled to open in November.

Shade Hotel Redondo Beach is located at 655 N. Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. For more information visit


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