2023 Stephen Martin Scholars

Student-athletes Sion James and Kaia Todd are the 2023 recipients of the Stephen Martin Scholars.

The Stephen Martin Scholars honors Stephen Martin, who broke the color barrier in the Southeastern Conference when he played his first baseball contest for Tulane in 1965. Prospective candidates for the honor represent the highest level of character and leadership skills while being academically driven and civic-minded — all characteristics that teammates used to describe Stephen Martin. Tulane established the award in 2019.

Kaia Todd runs a race on a track
Kaia Todd

James’ and Todd’s recognition is part of Tulane’s long-term initiative to honor the lasting impact that individuals from diverse backgrounds have made at the university.

James, from Sugar Hill, Georgia, is a junior with the men’s basketball team, and Todd, from Birmingham, Alabama, is a junior on the women’s track and field team. 

“I’m thankful to be recognized as a Stephen Martin Scholar and join the incredible list of former Tulane student-athletes to receive the honor,” said James. “Stephen Martin symbolized what it means to be a student-athlete and to represent the greater community through sports, so I’m proud to continue his legacy.”

Sion James runs with a basketball in a game
Sion James

James and Todd were recognized at a September football game in Yulman Stadium.

“I’m excited to be recognized as a Stephen Martin Scholar,” Todd said. “Stephen Martin’s legacy has created a space where I can excel in my sport and make a positive impact on my New Orleans community. It’s a true honor to be a member of the Green Wave and be surrounded by individuals who share my passion of sports and activism.”

Martin and his wife, Brigid Cheri Martin, had three children, Stephen Jr., Nicole and Dana.

Martin also served in the U.S. Army and retired as the chief financial officer for Tuskegee University in 2012. He died in 2013.