It is with great sadness we bring you the news of a true great American legend. North Carolina native born Meadow Lemon III who became known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” during a run of more than two decades as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, died Sunday at the age of 83.
According to Lemon’s website, Lemon comes from a day where his first basketball hoop was something he had made out of an onion sack and a coat hanger. Lemon using an empty can of Carnation milk to sink his first two-point shot. In college he played at Florida A&M and was drafted into the Army for two years prior to applying to be part of the Globetrotters in 1954.
Lemon said he had seen the Globetrotters playing on newsreels, passing the ball to the tones of the distinctive “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and was struck by the all-black squad. Black players were still a novelty on the court, the NBA having only integrated in 1950.
“When they got to the basketball court, they seemed to make that ball talk,” Lemon said during his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech in 2003. “I said, ‘That’s mine. This is for me.’ I was a receiving a vision. I was receiving a dream in my heart.”
His website states that after his time with the Globetrotters, he formed his own comedic basketball teams —
Meadowlark Lemon’s Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars, and, today, Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars.
He is in the International Clown Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, received the 2001 Victor Sports Award, recorded two music albums, and has won four Angel awards for his ministry TV show. He has starred in many movie and TV roles, including the movie, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, and the weekly television series, Hello, Larry!
For more than 25 years he has also served as a motivational speaker and as a messenger of JOY. He lived with his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, and two of their 10 children in Scottsdale, Arizona.
As his basketball career wound down, Lemon became an ordained Christian minister, creating his own self-named evangelistic organization in 1994.
Here’s a history of Meadowlark Lemon, The Harlem Globetrotters, and his Bucketeers.
Cover photo from http://www.meadowlarklemon.org/