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Claude Johnson

was born George Daniel Crowe in Whiteland, Indiana, the fifth child of Morten and Tom Ann Crow. He was the fifth of ten children—eight boys and two girls. Crowe’s father, Morten, was a lifelong farm laborer for hire. His mother, Tom Ann, was a homemaker. Both parents were from Adair County, Kentucky. A left-hander who stood six feet four inches tall with a brawny build and exceptional athletic ability, Crowe earned the nickname “Big George.”

He attended Franklin High School in Franklin, Indiana, where in 1938 as a junior he became the school’s first ever African American varsity basketball player. In 1939 he led the Grizzly Cubs to the final game of the Indiana State High School Athletic Association Basketball Championship and was named to the All State team as a center In addition as the leading vote getter for Indiana s newly instituted high school basketball All Star ...