Born Hamilton James Nichols, he attended Mirabeau B. Lamar High School in Houston and excelled at collegiate football at Rice University. He was so impressive that he was elected a member of the 1944 College Football All-America Team. His studies yielded to his service with the United States Navy during World War II, where he was stationed in the South Pacific Theater. He returned to resume his athletics and was a contributor to the 1946 Owls squad which won the Orange Bowl. Nichols was selected by the Chicago Cardinals during the 1946 NFL Draft and appeared in 43 regular season games. During his years with the Cardinals, he served as a blocker for quarterback Paul Christman and experienced a world championship with the 1947 team which captured the NFL Title. The following season, he was a member of the Cardinals' squad which earned their second appearance in the NFL Championship Game. After concluding his football career with the Green Bay Packers in 1951, he went onto become a successful claims attorney. He died in Houston on July 6, 2013 at the age of 89.