Connect with us

News

Former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon Dies at 83, Wife Confirms

Published

on

Former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon Dies at 83, Wife Confirms

When Meadow George Lemon walked into the Ritz Theater in Wilmington, N.C., at age 11, he didn’t have much going for him. He was born a second-class citizen in the Jim Crow South. His folks had split up, leaving his aunt and uncle to raise him – a skinny boy with a funny name “not at the top of anyone’s priority list,” as he later wrote. And, for a kid who looked forward to splurging 25 cents on westerns and adventure flicks, there was no clear way out.

Then, in the early 1940s, Lemon saw the newsreel that changed his life.

“The newsreel on this particular Saturday was about a new kind of team – a basketball team known as the Harlem Globetrotters,” he later wrote. “The players in the newsreel were unlike any I had ever seen. . . . They laughed, danced, and did ball tricks as they stood in a ‘Magic Circle’ and passed the ball to a jazzy tune called ‘Sweet Georgia Brown.’ How they could play!” He added: “There was one other thing that was different about them, though. They were all black men. The same color as me.”

The man the world would come to know as Meadowlark Lemon – who died Sunday at 83, as the New York Times first reported – dreamed what seemed like an impossible dream: to play for the Globetrotters and conquer the globe. Yet, it came true.

“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen,” basketball great Wilt Chamberlain, Lemon’s onetime teammate, said in a television interview shortly before his death in 1999, as the Times reported. “People would say it would be Dr. J or even Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”

 

Lemon began with virtually nothing: a basketball hoop fashioned out of an onion sack and a wire coat hanger nailed to a tree behind a neighbor’s house. His ball was an empty Carnation evaporated milk can salvaged from the garbage.

Eventually, these modest efforts let to greater things. Lemon was pulled out of a pickup game by a coach who saw his talent. The coach taught him the fundamentals – including the hook shot that would make Lemon famous.

Lemon, however, was loathe to give his mentor all the credit, saying he continued to work on the shot every day even after he perfected it.

“I learned to perfect the hook shot because I was taught by the very best coach I’ve ever known,” he wrote in a 2010 memoir. “. . . It was me.”

An all-state high school player, Lemon landed back in Wilmington after an unsuccessful stint playing at Florida A&M. He was considering joining the army in the middle of the Korean War when a high-school coach got him his dream shot: a tryout with the Globetrotters in Raleigh. In front of 15,000 people, Lemon played for a quarter-and-a-half and scored 12 points.

Though the Globetrotters were impressed, the team wasn’t ready for him. So Lemon enlisted and, while serving in Austria, tried out again when the Globetrotters visited Europe. The result: a 40-game contract for a European tour that turned into a career as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” of the franchise that spanned two decades.

First lesson: Even on a team that valued spectacle over statistics, comedy isn’t enough.

“The comedians were the ones who got cut first,” Lemon said in 1977. “You first had to prove that you could play basketball, then you had to show that you could be funny.”

 

Indeed, in the middle of the 20th century, the Globetrotters were more than a novelty act. When Lemon joined in 1954, the NBA had integrated just six years before. Owned by the very white, very Jewish Abe Saperstein – who embraced the novel idea, missed by many of his contemporaries, that some black people could actually play basketball – the team was a showcase for African American players, including Chamberlain, who played for a year with Lemon. Though sometimes criticized for its buffoonish image – for “Tomming for Abe,” as detractors put it – in the civil rights era, the Globetrotters always had many defenders.

“I think they’ve been a positive influence,” Jesse Jackson once said. “. . . They did not show blacks as stupid. On the contrary, they were shown as superior.”

“I knew when I joined the team that they were one of the most important institutions in the world,” Lemon wrote. “They had done more for the perception of black people and for the perception of America that almost anything you could think of.” He added: “Some people say that the Globetrotters kept the NBA in business in its early years.”

Amid the race politics, there was room for levity – a lot of it. In vaudevillian gags known as “reems,” the Globetrotters would torture referees, fake injuries, line up in football or baseball formations, or douse one another with water. Lemon became the ringmaster of this circus, playing up to 10 games per week 2 million paying customers around the world per year. With the Globetrotters and a subsequent comedy basketball teams he formed, he played in an East German swimming pool and a Mexican bullfighting ring. He played before two popes and met President Reagan.

There was a cost. Lemon, the father of 10 children, missed a lot at home, where life was not always placid. Indeed, Lemon divorced his first wife, who was arrested in 1978 after a car chase between the unhappy couple ended with her stabbing him at 53rd Street and Second Avenue in New York.

“I have a lot of people I need to apologize to,” Lemon said when he was inducted into the basketball hall of fame in 2003, saying sorry to his family for the Globetrotters punishing tour schedule.

As proud as Lemon was of his performance on the court, he was perhaps prouder of his performance in another arena: He was ordained as a minister in 1986, according to his website.

“I have been called the Clown Prince of Basketball, and an Ambassador of Good Will in Short Pants to the world, which is an honor,” he wrote. “To be a child of God is the highest honor anyone could have.”

In the end, he laid credit for all he had accomplished on the court and off at the feet of the almighty.

“God planted that dream in my heart as I sat right there in the Ritz Theater,” Lemon wrote. “He gave me a relentless desire, determination, energy, and the talent to make my dream come true.”

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

News

Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

Published

on

Three Disney World Employees Among 17 Arrested in Florida Child Sex Sting

Three Disney World employees were among the 17 people arrested in a child sex sting operation in Florida, law enforcement officials announced on Wednesday.

In the operation, dubbed “Operation Child Protector,” undercover officers posed as 13- and 14-year-old children on social media and online dating apps between July 27 and Aug. 1.

The undercovers made contact with each of the suspects before proposing they meet at a location in Polk County, where they were busted.

In total, the arrests led to 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges. Those arrested were aged 26 to 47. All were from Central Florida except for one 33-year-old man from California.

“What you see on this board … are deviants. Incredible deviants,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a press conference on Tuesday, motioning to photos of the alleged pervs. “They travel from as far away as Clewiston, Florida. One even came from Los Angeles.”

“Much to their chagrin, instead of meeting with young children, they were met by law enforcement officers who were online undercover posing as children.”

Kenneth Javier Aquino, 26, a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World, was arrested while still wearing his Disney polo shirt and swimsuit, according to the sheriff’s office.

Aquino engaged in an online conversation on social media with an officer, posing as a 13-year-old girl, authorities said. He then asked the “girl” to send photos, and sent her an explicit video of himself, police said.

Aquino told officers he is a Navy veteran and has a pregnant girlfriend.

Jonathan McGrew, a 34-year-old custodian at Disney World, was nabbed by an undercover officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.

disney-world

McGrew allegedly told the “girl” that he wanted her to come over and have sex with him and his girlfriend, 29-year-old Savannah Lawrence, who also works as a custodian at tourist mecca.

McGrew sent her explicit videos of him and Lawrence performing sexual acts on each other, authorities said.

A rep for Disney World didn’t immediately return a message.

Continue Reading

News

China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

Published

on

China Reports First Human Death from Monkey B Virus

China has reported the first human infection and death in the country caused by a rare infectious disease found in primates known as the Monkey B virus.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said a 53-year-old veterinary surgeon who worked in a research institute specializing in nonhuman primate breeding in Beijing dissected two monkeys in March and became ill about a month later.

He began experiencing nausea, vomiting, fever and neurological issues, and died in May.

Blood and saliva samples were tested and researchers in April found evidence of the Monkey B virus, also known as the herpes B virus.

Researchers said a male doctor and female nurse who were in close contact with the victim tested negative for the virus.

The Monkey B virus is prevalent among macaque monkeys but infection among humans is extremely rare. Since the virus was identified in 1932, just 50 cases have been reported, with the majority of those in North America. Untreated B virus infections in humans are serious, however, with a fatality rate of about 80 percent.

Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, and progress to more serious complications such as swelling of the brain and spinal cord.

Laboratory workers and veterinarians in close contact with the animals are most at risk as people typically get infected with the virus if they are bitten or scratched by an infected macaque, or have contact with the monkey’s eyes, nose or mouth.

But the virus is unlikely to mutate in a way that poses a problem to the general population. Just one case of human-to-human transmission of the virus has ever been documented.

Continue Reading

News

U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

Published

on

U.S. Remembers 9/11 Terrorist Attacks as The Pandemic Changes Tribute Traditions

Americans are commemorating 9/11 with tributes that have been altered by coronavirus precautions and woven into the presidential campaign, drawing both President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to pay respects at the same memorial without crossing paths.

In New York, a dispute over coronavirus-safety precautions is leading to split-screen remembrances Friday, one at the Sept. 11 memorial plaza at the World Trade Center and another on a nearby corner. The Pentagon’s observance will be so restricted that not even victims’ families can attend, though small groups can visit the memorial there later in the day.

Trump and Biden are both headed — at different times — to the Flight 93 National Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Trump is speaking at the morning ceremony, the White House said. Biden plans to pay respects there in the afternoon after attending the observance at the 9/11 memorial in New York.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is also due at ground zero — and then at the alternate ceremony a few blocks away.

In short, the anniversary of 9/11 is a complicated occasion in a maelstrom of a year, as the U.S. grapples with a health crisis, searches its soul over racial injustice and prepares to choose a leader to chart a path forward.

Still, 9/11 families say it’s important for the nation to pause and remember the hijacked-plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the trade center, at the Pentagon and near Shanksville on Sept. 11, 2001, shaping American policy, perceptions of safety and daily life in places from airports to office buildings.

“I know that the heart of America beats on 9/11 and, of course, thinks about that tragic day. I don’t think that people forget,” says Anthoula Katsimatides, who lost her brother John and is now on the board of the National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum.

Friday will mark Trump’s second time observing the 9/11 anniversary at the Flight 93 memorial, where he made remarks in 2018. Biden spoke at the memorial’s dedication in 2011, when he was vice president.

The ground zero ceremony in New York has a longstanding custom of not allowing politicians to speak, though they can attend. Biden did so as vice president in 2010, and Trump as a candidate in 2016.

Though the candidates will be focused on the commemorations, the political significance of their focus on Shanksville is hard to ignore: Pennsylvania is a must-win state for both. Trump won it by less than a percentage point in 2016.

Around the country, some communities have canceled 9/11 commemorations because of the pandemic, while others are going ahead, sometimes with modifications.

The New York memorial is changing one of its ceremony’s central traditions: having relatives read the names of the dead, often adding poignant tributes.

Thousands of family members are still invited. But they’ll hear a recording of the names from speakers spread around the vast plaza, a plan that memorial leaders felt would avoid close contact at a stage but still allow families to remember their loved ones at the place where they died.

But some victims’ relatives felt the change robbed the observance of its emotional impact. A different 9/11-related group, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, set up its own, simultaneous ceremony a few blocks away, saying there’s no reason that people can’t recite names while keeping a safe distance.

The two organizations also tussled over the Tribute in Light, a pair of powerful beams that shine into the night sky near the trade center and evoke its fallen twin towers. The 9/11 memorial initially canceled the display, citing virus-safety concerns for the installation crew. After the Tunnel to Towers Foundation vowed to put up the lights instead, the memorial changed course with help from its chairman, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Tunnel to Towers, meanwhile, arranged to display single beams for the first time at the Shanksville memorial and the Pentagon.

Over the years, the anniversary also has become a day for volunteering. Because of the pandemic, the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance organization is encouraging people this year to make donations or take other actions that can be accomplished at home.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending