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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Bijan C. Bayne
was born in Washington, D.C., to Juanita, a housekeeper, and Hasker, a bricklayer. He was the second of four children in a two-bedroom, one-story home. Bing’s father nicknamed him “Duke” because he was good with his hands (his “dukes”). When Bing was five he was playing with a rocking horse he had made with two sticks nailed together. He tripped and accidentally poked his left eye with a rusty nail. His family could not afford to pay for an operation, and his vision became somewhat impaired. Bing’s father suffered a severe head injury while working at a construction site, when a brick fell four stories onto his head, causing a brain clot.
As a youngster Bing frequented far northeast D C s popular Watts playground where older boys such as Marvin Gaye hung out His hero was local product Elgin Baylor a Los Angeles Lakers superstar Bing enrolled at Spingarn ...
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 ...
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 ...