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Ronald Eniclerico

baseball player. One of the most successful major league baseball players never to play on a championship team, Banks earned a reputation during his nineteen-year tenure with the Chicago Cubs as one of the most solid, dependable players in the game. He was known for his affable, optimistic attitude, epitomized by his well-known catchphrase: “It's a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let's play two!”

Banks was born in Dallas, Texas, to a poor family. In his autobiography, Mr. Cub (1971), he relates the story that, when he was a child, a boy from his neighborhood stole a chicken that had been intended for the Banks family's Thanksgiving dinner. Banks's mother had killed the chicken herself, and Banks had to wrestle the boy for the bird in a nearby basement apartment to reclaim the family's dinner.

Banks began playing softball in high school where he first played shortstop ...

Article

Richard Sobel

track-and-field athlete, motivational speaker, and activist for youth, was born Robert Alfred Beamon in Jamaica, New York, to Naomi Brown Beamon and a father he never met. After his mother died from tuberculosis before Beamon's first birthday, his stepfather, James, assumed parental responsibility for Robert and his older, disabled brother Andrew. Robert's grandmother, Bessie Beamon, ultimately took over their care as a result of James's inadequate parenting skills. Rarely supervised, Beamon ran away from home when he was fourteen and joined a gang. When he struck a teacher who had attempted to break up one of Beamon's fights, he was expelled and charged with assault and battery.

Beamon's life might have become a tragedy if it weren't for a judge who was “thoughtful, compassionate, and obviously interested in helping kids” (Second Chances 3 The judge took a chance and allowed Beamon to attend an alternative school in ...

Article

Thomas Aiello

basketball player. David Bing was born and raised in Washington, D.C., where he attended Spingarn High School. He starred on the Spingarn basketball team, earning All-Metro honors and in 1962 being named a Parade All-American. That success drew the attention of the University of Michigan and the University of California at Los Angeles, but Bing instead chose to attend Syracuse University, reasoning that he would be more successful at a basketball program with a lower profile. He was correct. In three of his four seasons at Syracuse, Bing led the team in scoring, averaging more than twenty points a game. In his senior year (1966) Bing averaged 28.4 points a game—fifth highest in the country—and was named an All-American. Meanwhile he turned the perennially struggling Syracuse into a winning program. Professional scouts noticed, and in 1966 the Detroit Pistons drafted Bing in the first round of ...

Article

Daniel A. Dalrymple

football player, was born Melvin Carnell Blount in Vidalia, Georgia. Blount was the youngest of eleven children who grew up in rural Georgia in extreme poverty, often going barefoot and living in a home with no indoor plumbing. Blount's father, a deeply religious man, instilled values in his children through hard work and high expectations, and Blount recalled that some of the most satisfying moments of his childhood came from doing chores for his father and earning his praise. Blount learned football from his seven older brothers, who played a rough brand of football in which Blount excelled at an early age. In high school Blount proved that he was a gifted athlete on the football field and beyond. He was a multiple‐sports star, running track as well as playing baseball, basketball, and football. Blount made such an impression in high school that by the time he graduated in 1966 ...

Article

Boyd Childress

professional basketball player and humanitarian activist, was born in Gogrial, Sudan. Born to Madut and Okwok Bol, his father was a herder in the Sudan. Legend has it that Bol, who shared this task, once killed a lion with a spear while tending the family's cattle. Members of the Dinka tribe, noteworthy for their height, Bol's parents were tall—his mother was 6 feet 10 inches. Bol grew to an extraordinary 7 feet 7 inches. When he was a teenager with such height, a cousin suggested he take up basketball. Playing for a team in the larger city of Wau and later in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Bol was discovered by Don Feeley, a coach from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He came to the United States in 1983 and although he weighed only 180 pounds and lacked athleticism Bol was drafted by the then ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

basketball player, was born on 16 October 1962 near Gogrial, South Sudan, at that time part of the Republic of Sudan. His family belonged to the Dinka ethnic community, of which his father, Madut Bol, was a local chief. Okwok Bol was his mother. Like many of his siblings, Bol grew up raising cattle for his family. Even though his parents were both well over six feet tall, Bol's height was impressive. By eighteen, he had reached 7 feet 7 inches. He first played soccer, the national sport in Sudan, but his height was such a disadvantage that he gave up the sport. In 1979 Bol began to play basketball This late start explains the limitations of his later career However the towering Bol soon proved himself to be a master at shot blocking and interior defense He moved to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and played ...

Article

Julian C. Madison

athlete, actor, civic activist. Jim Brown is generally recognized as the greatest football player and the greatest lacrosse player of all time. At 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 228 pounds, and with a 32-inch waist, Brown combined great speed with a powerful running style and fearsome stiff-arm to terrorize National Football League (NFL) defenders for nine years. The only person in history voted into three halls of fame (college football, college lacrosse, and the NFL), Brown is arguably the greatest athlete of the twentieth century.

James Nathaniel Brown was born on Saint Simons Island, Georgia, to Swinton “Sweet Sue” and Theresa Brown Swinton Brown left his family barely two weeks after his son was born and they rarely heard from him afterward When Jim was two his mother left him in the care of his great grandmother and moved to Great Neck Long Island where ...

Article

Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

Major League Baseball player. Roberto Clemente Walker was born in Barrio San Anton in Carolina, Puerto Rico, the youngest of the seven children of Melchor Clemente and Luisa Walker. His father was a foreman on a sugarcane plantation, and his mother ran a grocery store for plantation workers. As an adolescent, Clemente excelled in sports such as track and field and played amateur baseball with the Juncos double-A club and with the Santurce Crabbers in what was known as the Puerto Rican Winter League. Because he was fast, had a great throwing arm, and was also a strong hitter, scouts from big league teams watched him play in high school.

When Clemente graduated in 1953 the scout Al Campanis signed him with the Brooklyn Dodgers with a $10 000 bonus The following season however the Dodgers assigned Clemente to play for their top affiliate in the minors ...

Article

Robert M. O'Brien

Hall of Fame baseball player. Anthony “Tony” Keith Gwynn was one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball and one of the most beloved players during the 1980s and 1990s.

Born in Los Angeles, he moved to Long Beach, California, when he was ten. He was a star athlete in baseball and basketball, earning a scholarship in the latter to San Diego State University in 1977. At San Diego State he was a star point guard, setting a school record for assists. After the basketball season ended he would play the second half of the baseball season for the school. Basketball was his first love, but being not tall enough and not quite fast enough led to the realization that he might not make it professionally, even though he was drafted in the tenth round by the National Basketball Association's San Diego Clippers.

However he played enough baseball ...

Article

In 2000 the Basketball periodical Slam Magazine named William Randolph “Sonny” Hill, Jr. the “Mayor of Basketball” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was selected over a host of hoops legends associated with the city, including Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Allen Iverson. Although Hill never played in the National Basketball Association, his influence in the Delaware Valley extends well beyond that of any NBA star.

Hill was born and raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from the city's Northeast High School in 1955, he attended Central State College. In 1960 Hill took a job at the Lit Brothers warehouse in Philadelphia. He soon became involved in union work, and served as an officer for Warehouse Employees Teamsters Local 169 for many years.

After leaving college Hill joined the semipro Eastern Basketball League, where the five-foot-nine-inch guard was known for his flashy play. In 1960 looking to ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born James Ray Hines in Dumas, Arkansas, the ninth of twelve children of Charlie Hines and Minnie West Hines. In 1952 the Hines family moved to Oakland, California, where his father worked in construction and his mother in a cannery. At Oakland’s Lowell Junior High School, Hines played center field on the baseball team; his speed at that position impressed Jim Coleman, the McClymonds High School track and field coach, who asked him to join the track team. Once at McClymonds, Hines began specializing in the 100- and 220-yard dashes. Undefeated throughout his high school career at both distances, he clocked 9.7 seconds in the 100 yards as a sophomore, and improved to 9.4 as a senior, to earn a share of the national high school record. Graduating high school in 1964, Hines ranked as the nation’s top high school sprinter.

Hines earned an athletic scholarship to run ...

Article

Jerome Teelucksingh

boxer, was born in the mill town of Atmore, Alabama, the youngest of eight children born to Annie Holyfield, who later moved with the family to Atlanta. Life was difficult for Annie, who bore the burdens of being a single parent and only possessed a grade-school education. She worked many hours to support her family and ensure that Evander and his siblings never felt deprived in the housing projects. One of Evander's brothers, Bernard Holyfield, became a well-known actor and dancer.

Holyfield s mother constantly reminded him that if he believed in God worked hard and never despaired he would be able to achieve anything he desired Despite his intense religious upbringing Holyfield never wanted to be a clergyman but aspired instead to be a football player for the NFL s Atlanta Falcons a fireman or a boxer It was his mother who introduced him when he ...

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Laura M. Calkins

football player, was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, to Paul C. and Mary Howell. Little is known of their early lives, but in the late 1880s Howell's parents decided to leave Louisiana, seeking a new life in the American West. In 1888 the Howell family and their six children (Abner was the only boy) reached Dodge City, Kansas, and then traveled together to Trinidad, Colorado. Under unknown circumstances, the family split up; Paul Howell went ahead by train, reaching Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1888. Mary and the children remained in Colorado until 1890 when they were able to join Paul in Salt Lake City where he had been hired as the city s first black policeman Although Paul and Mary Howell did not join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints LDS which was based in Salt Lake City and commonly known as the ...

Article

Emmett P. Tracy

basketball player, activist, urban developer. Born Earvin Effay Johnson Jr. to Christine and Earvin Johnson Sr. in Lansing, Michigan, Johnson won the 1979 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball championship and five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships before launching a career of public activism and urban development that made him one of the most successful African American businessmen of the late twentieth century.

Both Christine Johnson, a school custodian, and Earvin Sr., an assembly worker, worked hard to support Earvin as a child. The sixth of ten children, Earvin exhibited an enthusiasm for life and, most significantly, basketball, from an early age. In 1974, Johnson enrolled in Everett High School in South Lansing, and quickly earned the nickname “Magic” as an emerging basketball prodigy. In 1977 as a junior he led Everett to the Michigan state championship and in his senior year he averaged almost ...

Article

Wayne L. Wilson

football player, was born David Jones in Eatonville, Florida, five miles from Orlando. David's parents, Mattie and Ishmeal, who worked a variety of jobs including farm workers, had eight children, three boys and five girls. He was the seventh. The poverty-stricken family lived in an old, wooden house with no indoor plumbing until David attended high school. He was a three-sport star (baseball, basketball, and football) at all-black Hungerford High School.

However, all David dreamed about as a child was becoming a star professional football player. His father demanded that all three boys play the sport. But he noticed that David had the greatest potential for success in the pros. Jones said of his father in Pro Football Weekly, “He used to watch me practice at 5:00 in the morning doing my running when nobody else did. He supported the hell out of me” (Arkush, 27 Jan ...

Article

Courtney Q. Shah

athlete and philanthropist. Jacqueline Joyner was named for the first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and her great- grandmother predicted that someday she would be the “first lady of something.” She was born in East Saint Louis, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from Saint Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Mary, was sixteen when she first became pregnant by her fourteen-year-old boyfriend, Alfred Joyner. The two secretly married, but they were thrown out of their homes when Mary became pregnant with their second child, Jacqueline. Alfred Joyner attempted to finish high school and find work while Mary cared for the children.

The Joyners cramped house lacked proper heating in the winter so Jackie spent much of her time at the Mary E Brown Community Center taking dance lessons cheerleading or participating in athletics She joined the track club it was led by Nino Fennoy who encouraged her to use athletics ...

Article

Kate Tuttle

Kipchogo Keino was the first of Kenya’s world-class distance runners to make his mark on the world sports scene. He won gold and silver medals at both the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games, set long-standing world records in both the 5000- and 3000-meter races, and inspired a generation of Kenyan track and field athletes. Keino, an ethnic Nandi, was born in Kipsamo, Kenya. He was orphaned at the age of two and raised by his grandmother. His first racing success came in 1962, when he set a national record for the mile. In 1964 while working as a physical fitness instructor for a police academy Keino participated in his first Olympic Games where he finished fifth in the 5000 meter race The following year he broke world records in both of his main events the 3000 and 5000 meter races Sports analysts believe Keino s training ...

Article

Jamal Ratchford

track and field athlete, was born Edith McGuire in Rockdale, Georgia, one of four children of Alberta, a domestic worker, and Clifford McGuire, a railroad worker. As a child, McGuire first participated in track and field at her elementary school during its May Day celebration. She next attended Samuel Howard Archer High School and was coached by Georgia Sports Hall-of-Fame member Marian Morgan and Olympian Mildred McDaniel Gold. As a high school student-athlete McGuire excelled in the classroom and was selected to the honor roll. She also participated in cheerleading, basketball, and track and field. At the age of 15, McGuire defeated top-ranked local sprinter Fronnie Tucker, and Morgan recommended she attend Coach Ed Temple's summer camp at Texas Southern University. In the summer of 1960 between her junior and senior years of high school McGuire attended Coach Temple s track and field ...

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Andrew James Kellett

professional football quarterback, was born in Los Angeles, California, the fourth of seven children (and only son) born to Harold Warren Moon, a janitor, and Pat Moon, a nurse. In 1963 the elder Harold Moon died suddenly of liver and heart ailments, leaving Pat to raise Warren and his six sisters. Warren played almost every sport growing up, but had decided by the age of fourteen that football offered his likeliest shot at a professional career. Thus he attended Los Angeles's Hamilton High School even though it was outside his school district, as much because of its reputation for football as for its academic strength.Moon was the varsity starting quarterback his junior and senior years at Hamilton overcoming Los Angeles s rising gang culture more than once his life was threatened by gang members at rival high schools and apparent racism though a prolific passer on ...

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Michael Adams

professional football player, was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, one of eight children of Virginia Moore and George Moore, a steel-mill worker. At Reading High School Moore starred in track, but football would become his main focus: Moore scored twenty-two touchdowns during his senior season in 1951, earning a scholarship to Pennsylvania State University. Penn State coach Rip Engle would not allow players to wear the low-cut shoes Moore had worn in high school. Uncomfortable with high-top shoes, Moore learned from teammate Bob Pollard that he could use tape to eliminate the tightness of the upper part of the shoe. Because of this white tape, Moore became known as “Spats.”

Moore became the first Penn State running back to gain over one thousand yards in a season. After graduating in 1956, he was chosen by the Baltimore Colts in the first round of the 1956 National ...