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Thomas Aiello

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 ...

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Boyd Childress

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 ...

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Claude Johnson

was born George Daniel Crowe in Whiteland, Indiana, the fifth child of Morten and Tom Ann Crow. He was the fifth of ten children—eight boys and two girls. Crowe’s father, Morten, was a lifelong farm laborer for hire. His mother, Tom Ann, was a homemaker. Both parents were from Adair County, Kentucky. A left-hander who stood six feet four inches tall with a brawny build and exceptional athletic ability, Crowe earned the nickname “Big George.”

He attended Franklin High School in Franklin, Indiana, where in 1938 as a junior he became the school’s first ever African American varsity basketball player. In 1939 he led the Grizzly Cubs to the final game of the Indiana State High School Athletic Association Basketball Championship and was named to the All State team as a center In addition as the leading vote getter for Indiana s newly instituted high school basketball All Star ...

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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 ...

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The career of the basketball coach Vivian C. Stringer (b. 1948) has served as an inspiration to both sports fans and advocates of equal opportunities for women. The daughter of a Pennsylvania coal miner, Stringer grew up during a time when there were few athletic opportunities for girls, and when racial discrimination was still commonplace. As a result, her only option in high school was to join the cheerleading squad. Even though her tryout was a success, she was not selected for the team, and only an intense appeal process—encouraged by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—allowed her to eventually join.

Stringer went on to excel at sports at Slippery Rock State College and enjoyed successful coaching stints at the historically black Cheyney State College and the University of Iowa Her most prominent success came as head coach at Rutgers University where she ...

Article

In 2000 the Basketball periodical Slam Magazine named William Randolph “Sonny” Hill, Jr. the “Mayor of Basketball” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was selected over a host of hoops legends associated with the city, including Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, and Allen Iverson. Although Hill never played in the National Basketball Association, his influence in the Delaware Valley extends well beyond that of any NBA star.

Hill was born and raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from the city's Northeast High School in 1955, he attended Central State College. In 1960 Hill took a job at the Lit Brothers warehouse in Philadelphia. He soon became involved in union work, and served as an officer for Warehouse Employees Teamsters Local 169 for many years.

After leaving college Hill joined the semipro Eastern Basketball League, where the five-foot-nine-inch guard was known for his flashy play. In 1960 looking to ...

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Jeremy Rich

was born in Brazzaville the capital of the Republic of Congo Congo Brazzaville the son of Amadou Djonga and Desirée Ibaka His mother played on the national women s basketball team of the Democratic Republic of Congo but died when Ibaka was young His father played on professional teams and on the men s national basketball team of the Republic of Congo His professional team won no fewer than nineteen championships in the Democratic Republic of Congo and eventually Desirée played for several years on a French professional team in Tours After Desirée s career ended Amadou became a coach Serge was the sixteenth of seventeen children Serge s brother Igor played on a Spanish professional team in Barcelona and a number of his sisters resettled in France Although Ibaka became interested in playing the sport in which his parents both showed so much skill the outbreak of civil war ...

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Emmett P. Tracy

basketball player, activist, urban developer. Born Earvin Effay Johnson Jr. to Christine and Earvin Johnson Sr. in Lansing, Michigan, Johnson won the 1979 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball championship and five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships before launching a career of public activism and urban development that made him one of the most successful African American businessmen of the late twentieth century.

Both Christine Johnson, a school custodian, and Earvin Sr., an assembly worker, worked hard to support Earvin as a child. The sixth of ten children, Earvin exhibited an enthusiasm for life and, most significantly, basketball, from an early age. In 1974, Johnson enrolled in Everett High School in South Lansing, and quickly earned the nickname “Magic” as an emerging basketball prodigy. In 1977 as a junior he led Everett to the Michigan state championship and in his senior year he averaged almost ...

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Boyd Childress

professional basketball player and coach. K. C. Jones—his full name—was born in Taylor, Texas, where his father, Casey, worked as a cook and autoworker. His mother, Eula, raised five children and worked as a domestic. Jones, the oldest child in his family, was nine when his parents separated. The children moved with their mother to San Francisco where K. C. became a star football and basketball player—a playground legend who starred at Commerce High School. Never a strong student, Jones did not contemplate college until the University of San Francisco (USF) coach Phil Woolpert offered him a basketball scholarship. When he was a sophomore Jones roomed with a tall, gangly freshman and fellow basketball player named Bill Russell—and the rest is basketball history.

Both Russell and Jones were dogged defenders on the court whose offensive game stemmed from playing hard defense. In 1955 and 1956 Russell and Jones ...

Article

Peter C. Holloran

professional basketball player, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. He attended high school at Laurinburg Institute from 1947 to 1951, where he was a four-year letter winner and an outstanding all-conference and all-state player in 1951. After he was drafted and served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956, he graduated from North Carolina Central College in 1957, a historically black college in Durham. In college, Jones was again a four-year letter winner and was named all-conference three times. Jones was one of the few African American players on the National Collegiate Athletic Association list of outstanding players. After seven National Basketball Association (NBA) teams overlooked Jones, he was drafted by legendary Boston Celtics coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach in 1957 The Celtics had the last pick in the first round of the draft and Auerbach chose Jones solely on the recommendation of Wake ...

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Jeremy Rich

Nigerian basketball player, was born Akeem Abdul Olajuwon on 21 January 1963 in the Nigerian city of Lagos. His parents, Salim and Abike Olajuwon, were Muslim members of the Yoruba ethnic community. Olajuwon had the good fortune of belonging to a fairly well-off family, as his parents owned a cement fabrication firm.

As he grew up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Olajuwon played the Nigerian national sport of soccer. Basketball had yet to attract much attention in West Africa, and relatively few organized leagues existed in Nigeria. He was a goalkeeper in soccer and the captain of his state team in handball, a sport that remained more popular in Africa than in North America for decades. Olajuwon later credited this experience for giving him the footwork and ability to anticipate that helped make him a fearsome interior defender in basketball. In 1978 Olajuwon entered a basketball ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

athlete, was born Wilmeth Webb in Washington, DC, the son of Elias, a pharmacist, and Pauline Miner. In 1925 Elias died of stroke, and Pauline subsequently remarried. Her new husband was Samuel Sidat-Singh, a medical doctor of West Indian descent. He adopted Wilmeth and moved the family to Harlem, New York, where Wilmeth was raised and attended school. Even as a young man, Wilmeth showed great promise as an athlete. By the time he was attending high school at New York's DeWitt Clinton, he was a basketball star. In 1934 he led his team to a New York Public High School Athletic League championship. He was offered a basketball scholarship to Syracuse University, to which he matriculated in 1935. He was also recruited by the school's football coach, and soon he was playing on the gridiron as well as the hardwood.

College sports at the ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

professional basketball player and Olympic gold medalist, was born in Brownfield, Texas, the daughter of Louise Swoopes. The only girl of four children, Sheryl never knew her father, who left when she was a baby. Swoopes became interested in basketball when she was young and played with her brothers and other neighborhood boys, developing an aggressive and physical style. By age seven she played with the Little Dribblers, a youth basketball league. After three years the team made the finals but lost the tournament in Beaumont. Swoopes's long legs earned her the nickname “Legs” at Brownfield High School, where she also ran track and set the school record for the long jump. In 1988, her junior year, the Brownfield High School team won its first state basketball championship. As a senior she won the Texas Player of the Year Award.Following her graduation from high school in ...

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David Borsvold

professional basketball player, coach, and front-office executive, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest of nine children of Isiah Thomas II, a plant foreman, and Mary Thomas, a civil servant. The family lived in a poor, high-crime neighborhood on the city's west side. Thomas's father lost his job at International Harvester, was forced to work as a janitor and, when Thomas was three years old, left the family. His mother held the family together, attempting to insulate the children from drug abuse and violent crime, even to the point of once using a shotgun to scare off neighborhood gang members.

Growing up in such difficult circumstances under the protection of his older siblings Thomas developed a veneer of smiling innocence that hid a street smart inner toughness Seeing the Harlem Globetrotters play basketball ignited a desire in the young Thomas to master the game himself ...

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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 ...