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