Beloved Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred “Curly” Neal has passed away at the age of 77, according to reports from TMZ.He became one of the most recognizable players for the Globetrotters during his 22 years with the team, where he played in more than 6,000 games. His #22 jersey was retired in 2008, making him one of only five players to receive that honor.
Curly was featured in several of the Globetrotters’ TV specials, including “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island” and “The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Special.” He was an elite ball handler for the Globetrotters after a successful career at Johnson C. Smith University, where he averaged 23 points a game.
Fellow Globetrotters legend, Curley “Boo” Johnson, mourned the loss of his friend on Twitter, saying “Last night the World lost a true ambassador of the game of basketball and outside of Muhammad Ali one of the most recognizable faces on the Planet!”
Globetrotters General Manager, Jeff Munn, also released a statement on Curly’s passing, saying, “We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known…His basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions.”
Source: Matt Stroshane / Getty
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Fred “Curly” Neal – the Harlem Globetrotters icon known worldwide for his trademark shaved head and charismatic smile – passed away this morning in his home outside of Houston at the age of 77. Between 1963 and 1985 – before the internet and cable television really existed – it was Curly Neal and the Harlem Globetrotters who first introduced the sport of basketball to millions of people around the world for the first time. It was Curly's magical ball-handling, shooting, charismatic smile and iconic bald head in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries, that made them start to play and fall in love with the game. One of the truly magical dribblers and shooters in basketball history, Neal fittingly played for 22 seasons in the red, white and blue, wearing No. 22. “We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” said Globetrotters General Manager Jeff Munn. “His basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions.” Arrangements are pending. For more information, follow this account or visit www.harlemglobetrotters.com