professional basketball player, was born Nathaniel Archibald in New York City but he was known as Tiny Some say he was nicknamed after his father Big Tiny while others believe that he was given that label because he was small in comparison with the other players on the basketball court He was the oldest of seven children and was raised in the South Bronx s Patterson Housing Projects At age fourteen his father left the family and Archibald effectively became head of the household His mother worked at a neighborhood supermarket called Alexander s to make enough money to care for the family Basketball became Archibald s sanctuary from drugs and violence which were rampant in his neighborhood and among his friends Still it wasn t easy for him to get himself on a team as he was small painfully shy and lacked confidence on the basketball court He ...
Hasaan A. Kirkland
football player and painter, was born Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr. in Durham, North Carolina, the son of Ernest Barnes Sr., a tobacco worker, and Fannie Mae Geer, who worked for a local legal official. On occasion Barnes talked with Mr. Fuller, his mother's employer, and from him learned about culture, art, and classical music.
Before the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 it was uncommon for African Americans in North Carolina to have access to museums or other sources of information about ancient or world cultures Segregation and racial inequalities in schools and other public institutions deprived most back children of avenues for artistic pursuits Despite such constraints Barnes s mother exposed her son to as much culture and art as she could he studied dance and horn and percussion instruments as well as the visual arts By the time ...
Alonford James Robinson
In December 1891 Canadian-American physical education teacher James Naismith, of the School for Christian Workers (now Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts, was instructed to invent a new game to entertain the school's athletes during the winter season. With an ordinary soccer ball, Naismith assembled his class of eighteen young men, appointed captains of two nine-player teams, and introduced them to the game of Basket Ball (then two words).
Since its creation, and particularly since African Americans entered the ranks of professional players in the 1950s, basketball has become one of the most popular and exciting games in the world. Black players in the National Basketball Association (NBA), including Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal, have helped to transform the game into a billion-dollar industry. African American women such as Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie have expanded the game beyond its traditional male purview and the long standing tradition ...
Officials at the International Young Men's Christian Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts asked Dr. James Naismith, a physical education teacher, to come up with an indoor activity for winter that would reduce rowdy behavior among its students, as well as keep them in shape during the winter. As a result, in 1891 Naismith created basketball as an indoor sport. It did not take long for basketball to become popular. Although it is not known exactly when African Americans began playing basketball, it is probable that the sport had already reached many black communities in the early 1900s, especially in the YMCAs, YWCAs, and athletic clubs in the North. Several blacks—most notably Dr. Edwin B. Henderson the chief of physical education in the District of Columbia for what was then called the Colored School Division were active at the turn of the twentieth century in making basketball ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Black Women in America, 2nd ed.
Basketball was invented in 1891 by a Canadian-American physical education instructor named James Naismith at a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Springfield, Massachusetts, in response to a call to develop a sport that young men could participate in during the cold New England winter months. Originally called “basket ball,” the game evolved into one of the most popular sports in the world for both men and women. In the early twenty-first century, there were professional leagues for both male and female basketball players throughout the world. For more than a century, the only thing that stood between black women and success in basketball was opportunity. When that opportunity came in 1996, with the formation of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), they proved ready for the challenge.
Steven A. Riess
James Naismith, an instructor at the YMCA Training School at Springfield College in Massachusetts, invented basketball in 1891 as an indoor winter game. The object was to throw a soccer ball into an elevated peach basket (the “goal”). Players could not run with the ball (which led to dribbling) and received a “foul” for rule violations. Play resumed after each goal with a “jump ball.” By 1895, field goals were two points and foul shots one, and backboards were added to prevent fans from interfering with shots. Two years later the number of players on a team was fixed at five. They wore knee pads because play was rough, with frequent fights over balls that went out of bounds. Cages were built around the court to keep the ball in play and prevent fan interference.
Basketball quickly gained popularity across the nation At YMCAs settlement houses and school ...
Dolph H. Grundman
basketball player and executive, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of a railroad brakeman. Little else is known about his parents. Baylor grew up in a poor section of the District of Columbia and played basketball at the all-black Spingarn High School, where he scored sixty-eight points in a single game to establish a new record for a D.C. high schooler. Although he was the first African American to make the all-metropolitan team, his poor grades discouraged college recruiters. Thus Baylor started his college career with a football scholarship at the tiny College of Idaho, which had only 450 students. Sam Vokes coached both football and basketball and decided that it made good sense to keep the talented Baylor off the football field Baylor proceeded to average thirty one points a game and made the NAIA All American team which recognizes the achievements of small school athletes After ...
Thomas A. Mogan
basketball coach and educator, was born in Jacksonville, Florida, to Earley Chaney (whose maiden name is not now known) and a father he never knew. The oldest of three children, Chaney grew up in a poor section of Jacksonville called Black Bottom. Chaney's mother was a domestic worker for a white lawyer's family in the Riverside section of the city. Although Chaney never met his biological father, his stepfather, Sylvester Chaney, was a major influence in his life. Chaney's experience of childhood poverty would play a major role in his lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the student-athletes under his charge.
Chaney moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the age of fourteen when his stepfather got a job at the Veteran's Hospital. Chaney emerged as a basketball star at Ben Franklin High School in Philadelphia. Despite being named the MVP of the Philadelphia Public League in 1951 he ...
Adam W. Green
basketball player, was the only child born to his parents in Little Rock, Arkansas. His parents’ names and occupations are not recorded. When he was six years old, his mother moved him to Chicago, where he was raised by her and his aunt. Clifton, whose nickname originated with his predilection for sugary-flavored drinks like soda pop, also had a name change in high school. Born Clifton Nathaniel, he was warned by reporters who covered his basketball games that the last name of “Nathaniel” was too long for sports summaries. Subsequently, Clifton reversed his names.
By his sophomore year Clifton was already 6 feet, 5 inches (he would grow another 2 inches in total), and he became a dominant force on the DuSable High School basketball team. During DuSable's run at the Chicago city championship in his senior year (1942 Clifton dazzled in both the semifinal against Austin scoring ...
Susan J. Rayl
professional basketball player, was born Charles Theodore Cooper in Newark, Delaware, the son of Theodore Cooper and Evelyn (whose maiden name is unknown). He was a standout for the Central High School basketball team in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1925. Cooper immediately began a twenty-year career in professional basketball, playing initially with the Philadelphia Panther Pros in 1925, then going on to star for the all-black Philadelphia Giants from 1926 to 1929. Robert Douglas, owner of the famed all-black professional team the New York Renaissance, spotted Cooper in a game at Philadelphia and signed him the next day to play for his team. Cooper then began an eleven-year stint with the Rens, named for their home court, the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem. Over these eleven years the Rens earned a record of 1,303 wins and 203 losses.
At six feet four inches Cooper was ...
Adam W. Green
basketball player, was the third of five children born to John DeJernett, a day laborer, and Mary Woods, a housewife. Though born in Garfield, Kentucky, as a baby DeJernett was moved with his family to Washington, Indiana, when his father found employment repairing railroad tracks on the B&O line that had been damaged during the Great Dayton Flood of 1913, one of the worst natural disasters in Ohio's history.
DeJernett grew up in a working-class neighborhood, and attended the segregated Dunbar Elementary School before entering the junior high school section of the integrated Washington High School. In 1925 the high school hired Burl Friddle, a celebrated Indiana high school and college basketball player, to coach the team and teach physical education. Friddle immediately saw that DeJernett's height and jumping ability would suit him well on the basketball team, and recruited the novice for the team.
Though DeJernett was ...
Samuel W. Black
athlete and physical director, was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, one of eight children of Allen Dorsey, a shipping clerk, and Mary C. Sparksman. Allegheny City was later incorporated as part of Pittsburgh's north side. The five Dorsey brothers would all earn reputations as accomplished athletes in Pittsburgh's sporting community in the early twentieth century.
As a child Dorsey showed an interest in sports while watching students play basketball in the basement gym of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. After the death of his father in 1905, he went to work to help support his family. The following year, while working as a janitor on a north side estate, he secretly opened the estate gymnasium for pickup basketball games and soon organized a team with practices held on Sundays. Two of the players who attended were the future Homestead Grays baseball legends Cum Posey and Sellers ...
Susan J. Rayl
professional basketball player and team owner, was born in St. Kitts, British West Indies. No information is available concerning Douglas's parents or his early education. He observed his first basketball game shortly after arriving in New York City in 1902. In around 1919 Douglas and some friends organized the Spartan Field Club, which offered black New York City youths the opportunity to participate in amateur cricket, soccer, track, and basketball. Coach Douglas's basketball team, the Spartan Braves, were successful, and at times he joined them on the court.
In 1922 Douglas ran into problems with the Metropolitan Basketball Association an amateur organization over the status of a couple of his players Because of this controversy Douglas organized the New York Renaissance a professional basketball team He approached the owner of the Renaissance Ballroom in Harlem agreeing to use the name Renaissance in return for practice and playing ...
Hall of Fame basketball player nicknamed “Clyde” during his professional playing days, was born Walter Frazier Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest of nine children of Walter Frazier Sr. At his all-black high school in the racially segregated South of the 1950s, he mastered basketball on a dirt playground, the only facility available to him. Frazier exhibited an athletic brilliance early in his life, becoming a three-sport star at David Howard High School. He quarterbacked the football team, played catcher on the baseball team, and was a versatile player on the basketball team.
After his success at David Howard Frazier decided to attend Southern Illinois University SIU at Carbondale Illinois Because of racial segregation it was not possible for Frazier to attend major colleges in Georgia such as Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia or any other major universities in the South Frazier was actually offered more ...
Euthena M. Newman
basketball coach, was born in Paducah, Kentucky, the only child of Lester Gaines, a cook, and Olivia Bolen, a domestic worker. By the time he entered Lincoln High School in rural Paducah, he was already six feet, five inches tall and weighed 265 pounds. He became a powerhouse on the football team and made All-Conference. In 1941 Gaines graduated third in his class of thirty-five.
Education was very important to his parents, so it was understood that he would go to college. While visiting Morgan State College in Baltimore, where he ultimately enrolled in 1941, the business manager, James “Stump” Carter, spotted Gaines walking across campus and exclaimed, “Man! The only thing I've ever seen bigger than you is a house!” (Gaines, 2004). From that day forward Gaines became known as “Big House.”
Gaines excelled in college athletics He made All American for two years and ...
basketball player who broke the color line in the Big Ten basketball, was born in Shelbyville, Indiana, the eldest son of Laura and Leon Garrett, a clerk and a laborer, respectively. At the time Indiana was segregated by a patchwork of law and unspoken custom, and Shelbyville had segregated grade schools but an integrated high school.
Garrett grew up playing basketball on the dirt court behind Booker T. Washington, Shelbyville's black elementary school. Fast, agile, and dominant, Garrett was a natural center though only six feet, two inches tall. He honed his skills by competing in pick-up games against grown men, some of them semiprofessionals barnstorming around Indiana.
On 22 March 1947 Garrett led Shelbyville High School s basketball team to the Indiana state championship before a live audience of fifteen thousand and a radio audience of over two million Garrett s Shelbyville basketball team was the first ...
professional basketball player, was born William Penn Gates in Decatur, Alabama. Gates moved to New York City with his family when he was three and grew up playing basketball at the Harlem YMCA. Interestingly he did not owe his nickname to this game but earned it from playing stickball with boys who thought he was older than he was. He attended Benjamin Franklin High School and helped the school's basketball team win the Public Schools Athletic League championship in 1938.
Following his graduation, Gates briefly attended Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia, but quickly went back to New York because he “didn't like the barriers of prejudice down there” (New York Times, 19 Feb. 1989 The 6 foot 3 inch forward and guard started playing with the Harlem Yankees Soon thereafter the all black Harlem Renaissance who had seen him practice bought Gates s contract for ...
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 ...
basketball player and teacher, was born in Bennett, North Carolina, the eighth of ten children of William Green Glover, a farmer and lumberjack, and Carrie Marsh. As a youngster Ruth acquired and honed her basketball skills, playing with her brothers on a makeshift court in the family's yard. These experiences helped prepare her for the competitive basketball she played in high school and college. Glover graduated from Chatham County High School in Siler City, North Carolina, in 1933 and then earned a BA in Elementary Education from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1937.
The year Glover entered Chatham County High School a girls basketball team was established providing female students at the all black school the same opportunities their peers already had at the all white Siler City High School Glover eager to test the skills learned playing informally with her brothers signed up immediately ...
John Bryan Gartrell
basketball player, was born Harold Everett Greer in Huntington, West Virginia. After graduating from Douglass High School in Huntington, Greer would become one of the greatest high school basketball players in the history of West Virginia. He broke a significant racial barrier when he enrolled at Marshall University in his home state in 1954. He became the first African American to receive a scholarship to Marshall and the first African American to play a sport at the university. Listed at six feet two inches and 175 pounds, Greer averaged 19.2 points per game during his college career, earning all-conference honors in 1957. In his senior year of 1958 he not only made the all-conference team for a second consecutive year, but he was also named a college All-American.
Greer was known as a quick shooting guard with a near unstoppable mid range jump shot Following his graduation ...