Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., in Harlem, New York. Raised in a middle-class household and educated at Catholic schools in Manhattan, the young Alcindor was introduced to Basketball at age nine and played competitively throughout elementary and high school. Alcindor was six feet eight inches (2.05 meters) tall by the time he was fourteen years old and became a star center for Power Memorial Academy, leading the high school to two city championships. He continued his dominant play at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he led the university's team to three consecutive National Collegiate Athletic Association championships. He lost only two games in his college career. An outspoken political activist who was influenced by the Black Power Movement, Alcindor changed his name in 1971 after converting to Islam. A popular NBA star from 1969 to 1989 Abdul Jabbar thwarted opponents ...
basketball player, was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, the son of Ferdinand Lewis “Al” Alcindor, a police officer with the New York Transit Authority, and Cora Alcindor, a department-store price checker. The almost thirteen-pound baby arrived in Harlem one day after the major league debut of Jackie Robinson in Brooklyn; as with Robinson, fiercely competitive athletics and the struggle against racial injustice would define much of his life.
From a young age Alcindor was introspective and intense He had an artistic sensibility drawn in part from his father a stern and silent cop who played jazz trombone and held a degree from Juilliard An only child in a strictly Catholic household he moved from Harlem at age three to the Dyckman Street projects on the northern tip of Manhattan a racially mixed middle class community In third grade he was startled to see a class photo that featured him not ...
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 ...
Daniel A. Dalrymple
professional basketball player, was born Charles Wade Barkley in Leeds, Alabama, in 1963. Barkley was raised by his mother, Charcey Glenn, who supported the family by cleaning homes, and his grandmother, Johnnie Mae Edwards, who worked in a meat factory. In high school the five-foot-ten-inch Barkley harbored ambitions to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) despite failing to make the varsity squad in the tenth grade. However, Barkley persevered by putting in long hours on the practice court and by honing his vertical leaping ability. During his senior year in high school, Auburn University offered Barkley (who then stood six feet four inches) a basketball scholarship.
At Auburn Barkley earned the first of many nicknames he would garner throughout his career the round mound of rebound He earned this nickname because he weighed three hundred pounds and was able to consistently out rebound taller opponents Barkley ...
basketball player and track athlete, was born Donald Angelo Barksdale in Oakland, California, the son of Agee Barksdale, a Pullman porter, and Desiree Barksdale, a homemaker. Barksdale grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood and played sports as a youngster at San Pablo Park, just four blocks from his home. Dutch Redquist, the director of the playground, helped him develop his skills. Jackie Robinson, the great UCLA athlete who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, visited the park and became another of Barksdale's mentors. Barksdale also accompanied his father to meetings of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters where he listened to black activists such as A. Philip Randolph.
While Barksdale was a gifted athlete he never played high school basketball The Berkeley High School basketball coach refused to have more than one black player on the team so Barksdale who entered high school in ...
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 ...
professional basketball player, was born John L. Beaty Jr. in Hillister, Texas, the son of John L. (Zelmo) Beaty Sr. and Etheatta Beaty, a homemaker. Along with his sister, Bernice Beaty, he was raised in the small town of Hillister by his mother; his father died when Beaty was a child. Zelmo attended the segregated Scott High School in Woodville, Texas, where he was recruited in basketball by Prairie View A&M, an historically black college northwest of Houston. After a standout college career, he graduated and was drafted third in the National Basketball Association by the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks in 1962. In 1963 Beaty married his wife, Annie, whom he had met at Prairie View.
Beaty played at the center position and stood at 6 feet 9 inches, weighing 235 pounds. He played seven seasons with the Hawks, winning Rookie of the Year in 1963 ...
Adam W. Green
basketball player, was the oldest of four children born to James S. Bias, an equipment repairman, and Lonise P. Bias, an assistant bank manager. Bias's death by cocaine overdose two days following his selection in the National Basketball Association draft caused repercussions for both his university's athletic program and drug laws in America.
Born and raised in Landover Maryland Bias took to sports as a pre teen spending much of his time at the Columbia Park Recreational Center a couple of blocks from his house Though he was initially drawn to football Bias began concentrating on basketball after deeming himself too tall and lanky for the gridiron When he was cut from his junior high school basketball team in seventh grade he began visiting the rec center s gym daily to improve his skills He made the team the following year played for the community center s club ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Wilt Chamberlain revolutionized the game of Basketball, inspiring rule changes and creating a premium role for the big-scoring and rebounding center. Over fourteen seasons in the NBA, “Wilt the Stilt”—or, as he preferred, “The Big Dipper”—averaged 30.1 points a game, second only to Michael Jordan in career scoring average. In the 1961–1962 season, playing for the Philadelphia Warriors, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points a game. He scored 100 points in a single game against the New York Knickerbockers, played on March 2, 1963, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
He was born Wilton Norman Chamberlain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of William Chamberlain, a custodian, and Olivia Chamberlain a domestic worker and laundress Heralded as the best prep player in the nation Chamberlain led his Overbrook High School team to a 58 3 record and two city championships The Philadelphia Warriors claimed future draft rights to Chamberlain upon his ...
Steven J. Niven
basketball player, was born Wilton Norman Chamberlain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the sixth of nine surviving children born to William Chamberlain, a janitor and handyman, and Olivia Ruth Chamberlain, a domestic maid and cook. Although Chamberlain claimed in his 1973 autobiography that he was born measuring twenty-nine inches in length, much above average, he later stated that at birth “there was absolutely nothing special about me. I was a little over twenty-two inches long” (Chamberlain, 1991, 25). At any rate, young Wilton was always the tallest in his grade school classes and became known as the “Big Dipper” or “Dip,” both of which he preferred to “Wilt the Stilt,” a nickname later coined by a journalist. He was also among the most athletic students, participating as a nine-year-old in 1946 in the famed Penn Relays near his West Philadelphia home.When he entered Overbrook High School in 1951 ...
basketball player. A legendary basketball player, Wilt Chamberlain was a gifted offensive shooter who scored and rebounded prolifically. In the 1961–1962 season, averaging 50 points a game, he became the first and only National Basketball Association (NBA) athlete ever to score 4,000 points in a season. Through his fourteen-year playing career Chamberlain—a center who was seven feet one inch tall—set NBA single-game records for the most points (100), the most consecutive field goals, and the most rebounds. Not only was he the NBA scoring leader for seven years in a row, but he also was the league's top rebounder in 11 out of his 14 seasons. Ultimately Chamberlain scored 31,419 points in his career.
Born in Philadelphia, Wilton Norman Chamberlain was one of nine children born to and raised by William a welder and a janitor and Olivia a domestic worker Although at first Chamberlain was interested in ...
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 ...
baseball player-manager, was born Lorenzo Davis. The only child of John, a coal miner, and Georgia, a housewife, Lorenzo earned the nickname “Piper” after his hometown of Piper, Alabama. Although he would never make it to the major leagues, which did not accept blacks until 1947, his is one of the premier names in the annals of Negro League baseball history.
Gifted scholastically, Davis often claimed that he should have been valedictorian at all-black Fairfield Industrial High School but that administrators passed him over in favor of a pregnant student. The truth of that claim is unknown, however. The coal miner turned athlete did, however, earn a partial basketball scholarship to Alabama State University in Montgomery. Forced to quit after a year for financial reasons, he found employment in the Birmingham steel mills. In 1938 he married Laura Perry and had a son, Lorenzo, Jr. the ...
professional basketball player, was born in Orlando, Florida, and was raised by his mother, Harriet, and grandmother, Amanda Jones. He attended Maynard Evans High School and led the basketball team to the 1975 state championship. Dawkins was tall and talented, but he never played college basketball. After high school, Dawkins applied for the 1975 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft as a hardship case—an exception allowing players who had not yet completed college to play in the NBA if they could prove economic hardship. A year earlier the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association had drafted a highschooler named Moses Malone, and Dawkins looked to follow Malone's pro path. The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Dawkins with the fifth choice.
Dawkins was a man child almost seven feet tall but a raw player who was drafted on potential alone In time he would match his potential but his first ...
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 ...