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 ...
Bing, David “Dave”
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 ...
Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick
basketball player, was born Charles Henry Cooper in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the youngest of five children of Daniel Webster Cooper, a mailman, and Emma Caroline Brown, a schoolteacher.
Cooper played basketball at Westinghouse High School in segregated East Pittsburgh. After graduating in February 1944, Cooper attended West Virginia State College, a historically black institution. He played basketball from 1944 to 1945, until he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. He served from July 1945 to October 1946.
Upon leaving the Navy, Cooper attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh on the GI Bill and graduated in 1950 with a B.S. in Education. Although Duquesne was a predominantly white university, it was an early leader in the recruitment of black athletes. Cooper made the basketball team, The Dukes, when only a freshman. He was their first black starter and an All-American. As captain in 1949–1950 he led ...
Jason Philip Miller
basketball player, was born Julius Winfield Erving III in Hempstead, New York, and raised by a single mother, his father having abandoned the family when Julius was only three years old. Since his family life was difficult to cope with, Julius spent a great deal of time on the streets and playing basketball at the local community courts. Julius received his familiar “Dr. J” moniker during a childhood pickup game; it was a nickname that would stick with him throughout his long and astonishing basketball career. By the time Julius was ten years old, he was playing with a local Salvation Army basketball team. He had already learned how to dunk—albeit on Prospect Elementary's lower baskets—and in just a few short years he was able to dunk the ball on regulation posts.
When Erving was thirteen, his mother remarried, and in 1963 the family relocated to nearby Roosevelt ...
Erving, Julius (“Dr. J”)
During his career Julius Erving—known to fans and announcers as Dr. J—set new standards of performance in his sport and made the slam-dunk into one of the most exciting moves in professional Basketball.
Julius Winfield Erving Jr. was born in East Meadow, New York. He grew up playing basketball on New York City playgrounds and then for Roosevelt High School. He recalled, “My first [slam] dunk was at the Prospect Elementary School, where they had 8-foot baskets and 13-foot ceilings. By the time I was in ninth grade, I was dunking the regular baskets.” Erving attended the University of Massachusetts, and during his sophomore and junior years (1969–1971), he led his team in scoring in forty-six of fifty-two varsity games.
In 1971 Erving left school to join the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association (ABA). He was named rookie of the year for the 1971 ...
Gaines, Clarence “Big House”
Born and raised in Paducah, Kentucky, Clarence Gaines attended Morgan State College near Baltimore, Maryland, where he played football and basketball. He graduated in 1945 with a B.S. degree in chemistry. Intent on becoming a dentist, he accepted a position as a teacher and assistant coach at Winston-Salem State University (then Winston-Salem Teachers College) in North Carolina, planning to stay only one year.
The athletic director left the following year, and Gaines took over the job. He coached football, basketball, boxing, and tennis. As Gaines told an interviewer for The New York Times in 1983, coaching at Winston-Salem, with its tiny budget, forced him to take on many tasks. “I was the coach, the manager, statistician, the janitor and everything else.” In addition, he earned a master's degree in physical education in 1950 by attending Columbia University in New York City during the summers.
Gaines decided to ...
Gaines, Clarence Edward “Big House”
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, 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 ...
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 ...
Jason Philip Miller
attorney and professional sports union representative, was born George William Hunter in Camden, New Jersey, but was forthwith sent away by his mother to be raised by her parents, John and Loretta Holmes, in what was then Delaware Township (later Cherry Hill). Hunter attended local schools, where he showed an athletic inclination and played football and baseball, among other sports (four letters in high school). In 1955 his little league baseball squad reached the Little League Baseball World Series with Hunter on the mound. He matriculated to Syracuse University, where he was an accomplished running back and captain of the football Orange, and helped lead the team to a 1964 Sugar Bowl appearance only to be defeated by Louisiana State University. He graduated in 1965, looking forward to a professional sports career.
Hunter anticipated being taken early in the 1965 National Football League NFL draft but an ...
Oliver, Hudson “Huddy”
was born Hudson Jones Oliver, Jr. in New York City, the third child of Hudson Jones Oliver, Sr. and Cecelia Washington Oliver. His father was a longtime stenographer and confidential secretary for Thomas Prosser & Son of Brooklyn, the United States agents for the steel and arms producer Friedrich Krupp AG of Essen, Germany. His mother was a homemaker.
Hudson “Huddy” Oliver was a brilliant player for several historically important African American basketball teams during the late 1900s and early 1910s. He later graduated from Howard University Medical School and became a prominent Harlem physician.
“Huddy” Oliver was the first “superstar” of the Black Fives Era of basketball, the period from 1904, when the sport was first introduced to African Americans on a wide scale organized basis, through the racial integration of the National Basketball Association in 1950 Dozens of African American teams emerged and flourished in New ...
SaFiya D. Hoskins
basketball player, was born David Maurice Robinson in Key West, Florida, the second child of Ambrose and Freda Robinson His father was a naval officer and his mother was a nurse Robinson s father was required to travel frequently The family moved to Virginia Beach Virginia when he was young and when his father retired from the navy they finally settled in Woodbridge Virginia Robinson was an excellent student and from the age of six attended schools for gifted children In junior high school he continued his exceptional scholarship and standing 5 feet 9 inches tall demonstrated extraordinary athleticism in many sports with the exception of basketball It was not until his senior year at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas Virginia that the then 6 foot 7 inch tall Robinson joined the basketball team He earned area and district honors in his first season Robinson achieved high ...
Thomas A. Mogan
professional basketball player, college coach, author, and foundation president, was born Dawn Michele Staley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Clarence and Estelle Staley. The youngest of five children, Staley grew up playing sports with neighborhood boys on the streets of North Philadelphia.
Staley enjoyed success at every level of athletic competition, beginning with her high school basketball career. She led Dobbins Tech to three Philadelphia Public League titles and was named USA Today Player of the Year during her senior season in 1988. Staley went on to the University of Virginia, where she led the Cavaliers to three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four tournaments in her four seasons in Charlottesville. Standing only five-feet six-inches tall, Staley relied on her quickness, intelligence, and unmatched intensity to succeed as a point guard. She was named National Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 She ...
Unseld, Westley Sissel
Dolph H. Grundman
basketball player, executive, and coach, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, to Charles D. Unseld, a blue-collar worker, and Cornelia D. Unseld, a school cafeteria worker. The Unselds had seven children of their own and two adopted boys. In 1963 the National Conference of Christians and Jews honored the family with its brotherhood award for rebuilding a local recreation center damaged by a fire. The seed of community service was planted early in Wes Unseld's life and remained important to him. Athletic ability in the Unseld family was not limited to Wes. His brother George played basketball at the University of Kansas from 1962 to 1964. Wes credited Carl Wright, his freshman high school coach, with fueling his interest in basketball. Wright developed Wes's basketball skills in daily one-on-one contests.
At Seneca High in Louisville Unseld played football and won the state championship in ...