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Donald Roe

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


Rachel Cody

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 ...


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 ...


Hall of Fame basketball player, businessman, broadcaster, and AIDS activist, was born in Lansing, Michigan, to Earvin Johnson Sr., a General Motors worker, and Christine, a school custodian. Johnson, often called “Junior” or “June Bug,” was one of nine children and enjoyed playing and practicing basketball from an early age. He attended Everett High School, where he was nicknamed “Magic” by the sportswriter Fred Stabley Jr. after registering thirty-six points, sixteen rebounds, and sixteen assists in a game. In his senior year the team went 27-1 and captured the state title, with Johnson averaging 28.8 points and 16.8 rebounds for the season. He was selected to the McDonald's High School All-American team in 1976 and 1977 After graduation he attended Michigan State University in nearby East Lansing where during his freshman year his varsity team captured the Big Ten Conference title One year later ...


Claude Johnson

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 ...


Charles Rosenberg

and the only formerly enslaved man to play Major League Baseball in the United States, was born in Milner, Georgia, the son of Andrew Jackson (A.J.) White, a wealthy plantation owner and railroad president, and a woman who by the laws of Georgia at the time was his chattel property, named Hannah.

Andrew White’s will, written in 1877, left his entire estate to White, and his sisters, Anna Nora White and Sarah Adelaide White, “the children of my servant Hannah,” to be educated at schools in the North. The 1880 census shows Hannah White still living in Andrew White’s household in Georgia, listed as servant. The work of Peter Morris, for the Society of American Baseball Research, indicates that Hannah White had both African and European ancestors (her mother, Sarah, believed to be fully “black,” was born in Maryland around 1820 and her children likely about 75 percent ...