- Adam Bradley
basketball player, was born in Detroit, Michigan, one of six children. When Gervin was two his father abandoned the family, leaving his mother to support the children alone. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s Gervin experienced first-hand the desperation caused by urban poverty and racial discrimination, tensions that culminated in the 1967 Detroit riots.
As a 5'8” sophomore Gervin failed to make the Martin Luther King High School basketball team in 1967. However, assistant coach Willie Meriweather saw his potential and offered him a place on the junior varsity squad. Gervin made the most of the opportunity. After befriending the high school janitor, he gained after-hours access to the gymnasium for late-night shooting practice in exchange for sweeping up afterward.
By his senior year Gervin had grown to just below his full height of 6 7 and had developed a silky shooting touch Averaging thirty one points ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.