Kings County has produced athletes, actors, animators and even a former Alaska governor. How many of these people did you know were from Kings County?
Steve Perry was the lead singer of the rock band Journey. Hit songs during Perry’s tenure with the band include “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Open Arms”.
Perry was born in Hanford. His family moved to Lemoore, where he attended high school. His parents owned Portuguese radio station KNGS (now KIGS AM 620), which switched to an all Indian-language format in 2014.
Jose Ramirez is currently undefeated (22-0) in his professional boxing career with 16 knockouts. He also competed at the 2012 Olympics in London as a light welterweight.
Ramirez teamed up with Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle last November for "Operation Gobble," a program that provides Thanksgiving turkeys to local families in need.
Ramirez is an advocate for immigration reform and water rights for farmers. The boxer was born in Hanford and raised in Avenal, where he currently lives.
Lorenzo Neal played fullback in the NFL for sixteen seasons for eight teams, including the Saints, Chargers and Raiders. He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times. Neal went to Lemoore High School and played college football at Fresno State.
In 2014, Neal visited Corcoran Unified School District to tell students about the importance of hard work.
Melinda Lira of Hanford advanced to the Top 24 of the fourth season of "American Idol" the same season multi-platinum singer Carrie Underwood was crowned the "Idol" winner.
Michael Baker is a retired Navy captain and NASA astronaut that was on four space flights between 1991 and 1997.
Baker is from Lemoore and was elected to the Lemoore Hall of Fame in 1999.
Ken Caminiti was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1996 as a member of the San Diego Padres. The third baseman was also named an All-Star three times. Caminiti spent 15 years in Major League Baseball, mostly with the Houston Astros and the Padres. His last season, in 2001, was split between the Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves. He is the Padres all-time leader in slugging percentage and OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
After Caminiti retired, he admitted in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he had taken steroids during his MVP season. He also had a substance abuse problem with alcohol and cocaine, the latter of which would ultimately take his life in 2004.
Caminiti was born in Hanford in 1963. He left behind three daughters with his ex-wife, Nancy Smith.
The late Bill Renna won the World Series with the 1953 New York Yankees. He also played for the Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics and the Boston Red Sox during his six-year American League-only career. Prior to his final season in Major League Baseball, he spent 1957 with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League.
Before his professional career, Renna attended and played baseball at the University of San Francisco. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps for two years during World War II. After the war, he went to Santa Clara University on a football scholarship and played both football and baseball at the school.
Renna was born in Hanford and attended Hanford High School in the 1940s. He died in 2014.
Chad Mendes is a UFC featherweight fighter. He was born in Hanford and wrestled at Hanford High School.
Mendes has not been in a UFC fight since December 2015. He was suspended two years for doping.
Tyson Chandler began his 17th NBA season this past fall with the Phoenix Suns. He spent his first five years in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls. Chandler won an NBA championship in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks and a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. In 2013, as a member of the New York Knicks, he was named to the NBA All-Star Team.
Chandler was born in Hanford and grew up on a small farm. In 2011, he returned to Hanford’s Home Garden neighborhood to help with a food giveaway, put together by Feed the Children and The Salvation Army.
David Ausberry played as a tight end for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL. Injuries limited his professional career, and he only played 34 games from 2011 to 2014 for the Raiders. Ausberry signed with the Detroit Lions for the 2015 season, but was let go from the team before the season began. Before his professional football career, he played as a wide receiver for USC.
At Lemoore High School, Ausberry was a two-sport star. He led the Tigers to their only Central Section football title in school history and was voted West Yosemite League basketball player of the year twice by coaches. Ausberry graduated from Lemoore High School in 2006.
Cornelius Warmerdam broke the pole vaulting world record in 1940. He would go on to beat his own world record seven times in four years, and held on to the record until 1957.
His parents were immigrants from the Netherlands and he quickly was given the nickname “Dutch.”
Warmerdam was born in Long Beach and raised on Hanford. He attended Hanford High School and Fresno State, and coached track and field at the college for several years. He died in 2001 in Fresno at the age of 86.
Mark Lee played cornerback for 11 seasons for the Green Bay Packers and was recently inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame. He was drafted by the Packers in the 1980 NFL Draft after attending the University of Washington.
As a member of the Hanford High School football team, he was a member of the only squad in the school’s history to go undefeated during the regular season.
Lee was given the key to the city of Hanford after his induction into the Packers’ Hall of Fame. Hanford city officials proclaimed July 22 “Mark Lee Day.”
Daniel Rhoads became president of the Bank of Lemoore and vice-president of the Bank of Hanford, and is also buried in Lemoore. But he is more famous for being a part of the first group of people who rescued members of the Donner Party. As you probably know, the Donner Party was an infamous group of pioneers who were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive during an unexpected early snowstorm.
Rhoads was born in Illinois, but moved to California in October 1846, just a few months before news of the Donner Party’s plight reached him in January 1847. He discussed the first member of the Donner Party his group found in a statement, “The first woman spoke in a hollow voice very much agitated and said ‘are you men from California or do you come from heaven?’”
(Photo: The Pioneer Memorial, dedicated to the Donner Party, at the Donner Memorial State Park in Truckee.)
Tommie Smith won the 200-meter sprint gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. During the medal ceremony, Smith and teammate John Carlos raised their fists in the air as a civil rights protest. Smith attended Lemoore High School.
In an interview with The Sentinel, Tommie Smith corrected those who thought it was a black power salute.
Actor Jan-Michael Vincent was born in Denver, but moved to California and attended Hanford Elementary and Hanford High School. He graduated from Hanford High in 1963.
His best known role was Stringfellow Hawke in the 1984 television series “Airwolf,” where he played a test pilot who believed anyone he loved would die tragically. The character also refused to eat red meat or wear underwear. “Airwolf” was the name of the high-tech helicopter in the series, and the late Ernest Borgnine was Vincent’s co-star. At one point during the show’s run, Vincent was one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, earning $200,000 per episode.
Jan-Michael Vincent also had roles in several movies, including “Baby Blue Marine” with Richard Gere, “The Mechanic” with Charles Bronson and “White Line Fever” with fellow local resident Slim Pickens.
Actor Matt Shively played the incredibly-named Ryan Laserbeam in Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson, VP” and Jimmy O’Neal in ABC’s recently canceled “The Real O’Neals.” He was inspired to go into acting after watching Shia LaBeouf in the Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens.”
Shively also appeared in the movie “Paranormal Activity 4,” which was ranked as one of the worst thrillers of all time.
Shively was born in Hanford.
Tyler Henry claims to be a clairvoyant and hosts “Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry” on the E! entertainment channel. He has performed readings of various celebrities, including Kris Jenner and Tom Arnold.
Henry is from Hanford and attended Sierra Pacific High School.
In an interview with The Sentinel promoting his new book “Between Two Worlds: Lessons from the Other Side,” Henry talks about waking up with a premonition that his grandmother was going to die.
Kara Cutruzzula is a freelance journalist and playwright. Her short-film screenplay “Strangers in the Night” was picked as a semifinalist in the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. She also has written articles and worked as an editor for The Daily Beast.
Cutruzzula was born and raised in Hanford and graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in English.
She currently lives in New York. “It's big and crowded but I think New York is actually made up of a million little small towns just like Hanford,” Cutruzzula said. “Except they all have 8,000 people and they all live right next to each other.”
Isaiah Martinez was a three-time state wrestling champion at Lemoore High School. He now attends the University of Illinois, where he won two straight NCAA wrestling championships in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, Martinez went into the tournament as the No. 1 seed, but lost in the final match to Penn State's Vincenzo Joseph.
Now a three-time All-American, Martinez is 98-2 in his career at Illinois and is the active leader in career win-percentage (.980).
Sean Parnell replaced Sarah Palin as governor of Alaska after the former Republican vice-presidential nominee resigned. He was born in Hanford, but his parents moved to Sacramento two years later. Parnell lost his re-election bid in 2014 and opened a law firm.
The Sentinel interviewed Parnell when he became governor in 2009, and he revealed how his family moved from California to Alaska.
Dameane Douglas played as a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles for four seasons after being drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1999.
He also played college football at Cal. Douglas was born in Hanford and attended Hanford High School.
Hanford native Jessica Edmonds won a role in the popular television show “Glee.”
Her mother, Suzi, said “She’s always had a passion for acting. She started at age 7, with various roles in productions here at the Temple Theater in Hanford.”
Edmonds took drama courses at College of the Sequoias and appeared on the stage in the first Central Valley production on “Rent.”
Lemoore's Jeff Fabry has won titles at the World Archery Festival, the National Archery Association U.S. Outdoor Nationals, the National Field Archery Association championships and the Paralympics.
He originally showed interest in archery as just a hunting technique, but would go on to win a gold medal at both the 2012 Paralympics in London and the 2016 World Archery Para Championships in Beijing.
Fabry lost most of his right arm and right leg in a motorcycle accident at age 15.
J.G. Quintel created “Regular Show,” an Emmy Award-winning cartoon about a blue jay and raccoon who work – or try to avoid working – as park groundskeepers. He also worked on “Star Wars: Clone Wars,” “Phineas and Ferb,” and “Adventure Time.” “Regular Show” and “Adventure Time” are the only shows to receive an eighth season from Cartoon Network.
TBS announced earlier this year that it ordered 13 episodes of Quintel's newest show, “Close Enough.”
Quintel was born in Hanford and went to Hanford High School.
Slim Pickens was a cowboy and rodeo star who and later turned to acting. He is famous for his role as Major “King” Kong in Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove.”
Pickens was born in Kingsburg and spent much of his childhood in Hanford.
Bill Landis was a pitcher for the Kansas City Athletics and Boston Red Sox in the 1960s. Landis was born in Hanford and attended Hanford High School and West Hills College in Coalinga.
In 1967, the Red Sox made it to the World Series. Unfortunately, Landis was called into National Guard service on the first day of the Series and missed all six games.
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You forgot Jose Ramírez from Avenal
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