It's tough to sum up a local judge and his impact on the community in just a few words. He's really tall, really tough, but a teddy bear deep down.
He's been a football Vol, a Minnesota Viking, a man who has gone from a football uniform to a judge's robe. Not much is typical about Tim Irwin, who by the way, stands at 6'7".
"I was a giant. I am still a giant," says Irwin.
Tim is proud of where he comes from, Fountain City. "My parents were so young that my mother had two children by the time she was 16 and they stayed married forever until my father passed away," says Irwin. "One of the important things in my youth was that we were Boys and Girls Club kids."
"I remember the proudest sports moment of my young life was being on the
Elliot Stroupe Coach basketball team to beat the Vine Street Hawks. You don't know what that means, Abby, but that was big stuff back then," says Irwin.
Irwin went to Central High School and when he graduated, the Vols came calling. "It's kind of strange the hometown relationship with the big university. I don't know if they assumed I was going here. I don't know if they didn't want me very much, but boy, when Florida started recruiting me pretty hard then the recruiting by Tennessee got a little more intense," says Irwin.
He was a key member on the offensive line, but education was his main priority. "If you're a football player and you don't get that education, you've cheated yourself," says Irwin.
Irwin never cheated himself. He actually embraced every single opportunity that came along.
"The first year the draft was ever on television was the year I was drafted. And I watched a couple rounds of it and my family was all gathered around and it was the most boring thing any of us had ever seen. So I left and went to Court South on Merchants Road and was playing racquet ball when Bud Grant called from the Vikings," says Irwin.
He played with the Vikings for 13 of the 14 years he was in the NFL. "Got married after my second year in the pros to Sharon. We've been married 31 years and we have three children," says Irwin. "My family traveled with me. Dogs, kids everything, everybody load into the Suburban to go to Minnesota."
And all the while he was going to law school, half the time at William Mitchell College of Law, half the time at UT.
"Probably half the classes at each place, but my degree is from the University of Tennessee, which is cool because that's where my heart is," says Irwin.
In the off season, Irwin practiced law in Knoxville. "For 15 years I did a lot of jury trials. I did a lot of sports representation, had about 20 NFL clients I represented," says Irwin.
He had higher hopes of helping kids, so he ran for Juvenile Court Judge. He's been in that post for more than 7 years. "You know somebody is going to cry everyday in your court before 10:00. It's a sad place sometimes, it is, but it's not so sad to me because I am doing my best to make it better right then," says Irwin.
He also spearheads a campaign to give the kids in his court a stuffed animal. "A little kid that's scared and they get this stuffed animal and they instantly just hug it and you can just see this calmness come over them," says Irwin.
And it doesn't stop there. This is the 25th year for a fishing tournament Irwin and his dad started to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club.
Plus, Irwin is in a band!
"The Chillbillies are a talented group of musicians and personalities. We have been playing music about 15 years all over," says Irwin. "We don't do a lot of rap, but we can do just about anything else."
Tim Irwin, a big time athlete with a heart for kids, who lives life without a free moment to spare, right here in the town he loves.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.