And he founded Pillar of Truth Bible Church in Capitol Heights, Md.
Lee, a father of four daughters who lived in the District, died Jan. 4 because of complications from covid-19.
Lee was born in the city on Nov. 1, 1968, to the late Sharon Jean Jones Lee and James Alexander “Bo” Lee. He attended D.C. public schools and graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School. At Dunbar, he was a starting linebacker on the football team. He went on to Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, where he also played football and pledged the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He graduated in 1991.
“He did everything to the fullest,” said his wife, Earline Lee. “Even when he texted a message, he sent it in all caps. He lived his life in all caps, and so many people were affected by him.”
After his football career ended, he had various jobs over the years, including at the D.C. Department of Employment Services and the United Planning Organization and as dean of students and athletic director at Lanham Christian School.
But Lee’s passion was back on the field as a coach for young athletes across the D.C. region. He coached at Ballou Senior High School in the District from 1991 through 1993. Over the years, he went on to coach at T.C. Williams High in Alexandria, Va., Dunbar High in the District and Oxon Hill High in Prince George’s County in Maryland.
According to an article on the Howard Athletics site, Lee stepped in as a sports announcer after the death of Shellie Bowers Jr. in 2018.
Lee “quickly established himself as the new voice of the Bison,” the Howard site said. It said he called home football games and men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball games, and filled in at other sports events.
Between their busy schedules, Tony and Earline Lee found time to learn how to hand dance, a form of swing.
“He didn’t want to hand dance, but I convinced him to do it,” Earline Lee said. It was the continuation of a romance that had started in the mid-1980s when he spotted her walking up 13th Street NW.
Earline Lee said she was headed home from D.C.’s Cardozo High School that day.
“I had choir practice, and he asked if he could take me home,” she said. “I said you have to take me and my friend home, and he drove off.”
But, Earline Lee said, “Tony did a U-turn, came back and said, ‘I will take both of you.’ ”
She said their “dating anniversary” was March 16, 1986. Tony and Earline married on June 20, 1992, and they had four daughters — Tonisha, Ayanna, Aleah and Tiara.
Tonisha Lee, their oldest, wrote on Legacy.com that her father “honestly had a servant’s heart.” Then, paraphrasing from 2 Timothy in the New Testament, she added, “He poured out his life as a drink offering to everyone who knew him.”
Tony Lee attended the Calvary Bible Institute, and in 2000, he founded Pillar of Truth.
Lee was eulogized at Judah Temple AME Zion Church in Bowie, Md., because Pastor Scot C. Moore, his close friend, offered the family a larger space that was needed for hundreds who paid their final respects.
Earline Lee said her husband had no preexisting conditions. She is now planning to start a ministry in his memory called STEPS: Supporting, teaching, encouraging, planning and socializing.
“STEPS is designed for people who have lost their love one, to help them to move forward and see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “We just have to take life one day and one step at a time.”