ST. CLOUD – A former Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota has died.

Irv Cross died on Sunday in Roseville. He was 81.

Cross, a former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback and television broadcaster, led Big Brothers Big Sisters from 2006 to 2010.

“In 2006, our search committee asked why this nationally-acclaimed person wanted to commute from Roseville to serve as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota,” said John Schnettler, former Big Brothers Big Sisters Board President. “Irv shared the story of how, after the death of his mother, his 5th grade teacher changed the course of his life. She helped him set his sights on high goals.”

“Irv personally understood the power of mentorship and we are grateful for Irv’s contributions to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota,” Schnettler added.

During his time as Executive Director, Cross was matched with a Little Brother named Travelle for three years.

“The most fun I had with Big Brothers Big Sisters was playing with the Little Brother assigned to me, who was ten years old when I was seventy," Cross wrote in his autobiography, Bearing the Cross. "Man, did he wear me out!”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota says Cross will always be remembered for his big heart and humility.

Cross was the first African American sports analyst on national television, working for CBS Sports as an NFL analyst and commentator from 1971 to 1994.

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