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Bing, Dave  

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 ...


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 ...


Cooper, Chuck  

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 ...


Haynes, Marques Oreole  

Dolph H. Grundman

basketball player, was born in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, the son of Matthew, a laborer, and Hattie Haynes. When Marques was four his father left the family so that he was raised by his mother and two older brothers and a sister. Since Oklahoma was a segregated state, Haynes attended segregated schools. His introduction to basketball began when he accompanied his sister, Cecil, to her basketball practices. As an elementary school student Haynes walked over to Booker T. Washington High School and watched his older brother, Wendell, compete. By his junior year in high school Haynes made the varsity team which won the National Negro High School tournament played in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1941 He played well enough to win a spot on the all tournament s second team At Booker T Washington High School Haynes played football and basketball In his senior year Haynes ...


Hunter, Billy  

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 ...


Johnson, Earvin “Magic,” Jr.  

Pamela Lee Gray

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 ...


Johnson, Magic  

Born in Lansing, Michigan, Earvin Johnson acquired the nickname Magic after a high school Basketball game in which he scored 36 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and made 16 assists. At Michigan State University, the 2.1 m (6 ft, 9 in) Johnson helped the Spartans, the university team, win the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship in 1979.

Johnson left college after his second year (1979) to join the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He helped lead the Lakers to five NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988). Johnson was named the NBA's most valuable player three times (1987, 1989, and 1990). He played in many All-Star games and, at the time of his retirement, held the NBA record for assists (9921 Johnson helped the Lakers become one of the ...


Johnson, Magic  

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 ...


Jordan, Michael  

Jill Dupont

basketball player, businessman, and NBA owner. It is always something of a mystery how those born in unremarkable circumstances achieve transcendence within and beyond their fields of expertise. By whatever alchemy of talent, hard work, and historical circumstance, perhaps no one in recent history has better embodied the earthbound problems and gravity-defying aspirations of the United States than Michael Jordan.

Growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina, Michael Jeffrey Jordan took to heart his parents lessons in diligence and human relations Instructed to treat everyone equally and with courtesy he experienced relatively few of the racial incidents that had occurred routinely in previous generations Jordan s anger flared once as a boy though when in response to a girl s racial slur he planted his popsicle on her head He acquired his work ethic like his height over time fueling himself with the real and imagined slights of ...


O’Neal, Shaquille  

Jonathan B. Fenderson

basketball player, actor, rapper, and entrepreneur. Born to Lucille OЙNeal and christened with the name Shaquille Rashaun, meaning “little warrior,” OЙNeal, who now stands 7 feet, 1 inch and weighs 325 pounds, outgrew the “little” aspect of his name and became known worldwide simply as “Shaq.”

OЙNeal first played basketball at Fulda American High School in West Germany, where his military stepfather, Philip Harrison was stationed After the family s relocation OЙNeal became a star at Robert G Cole Junior Senior High School in San Antonio Texas In his junior and senior years OЙNeal led his team to a 68 1 record and a state championship After graduation OЙNeal attended Louisiana State University where he garnered two First Team All American Awards and a John Wooden Award for NCAA Player of the Year After his junior year OЙNeal ended his college career to enter ...


Tatum, Goose  

Kenneth H. Williams

basketball entertainer, was born Reece Tatum in Union County, Arkansas, the son of a farmer who served as a traveling Methodist preacher on the weekends. Tatum admitted that the 1921 birth date was “an estimate,” and claimed not to have a birth certificate. Some guessed that he was as much as ten years older.

Although gangly, Tatum was an athletic youth while growing up around the Arkansas towns of Calion and El Dorado. He got his nickname as a teenager when he leaped to catch a pass during a touch football game, prompting an onlooker to yell “look at that ol' Goose fly.” He also played a little basketball, but his best sport was baseball, and after high school he took a job with a sawmill in the Ozarks that fielded a semiprofessional team.

The origins of Tatum s professional baseball career are unclear but one story is that ...


Thomas, Isiah Lord III  

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 ...


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 ...