The legendary Fred "Curly" Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters died this morning. He was 77. I remember the first time I saw the Globetrotters as a kid in the late 1970s. I was disappointed when the team was introduced and Curly was nowhere to be seen. Then suddenly, one of the players tore off another's afro wig and we realized it was Curly in disguise! From ESPN:
"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. "Curly's 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."
Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the barnstorming Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, when the team appeared in numerous televised specials, talk shows, television shows and even cartoons that included the team's own animated series [first episode below].
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. pic.twitter.com/JdZa6zTvZU
— Harlem Globetrotters (@Globies) March 26, 2020