Prince died on Thursday, a tragic loss for American music and culture. But as we mourn his passing, let us not forget this: Prince remains the only human being in history ever to look cool in middle school.
Behold young Prince Rogers Nelson, a point guard for Bryant Junior High School in Minneapolis in the early 1970s. An undersized (5-foot-2) point guard, Prince nonetheless had both swagger and skills on the hardcourt. He played first for Bryant, and later for Central High School.
“Prince was an excellent player; he was like the sixth or seventh man,” Richard Robinson, his coach at Central, said a few years ago. “He was an excellent ball handler, a good shooter and very short. Probably with a different group of people he would have been a starter. But, as they turned out, they were probably the best ball team that ever came along at Central. I knew he wanted to be starting and felt he should be starting. He was unhappy and he expressed that many, many times.”
Another Prince-related clip from the Strib archives, looking back at his hooping days at Bryant Junior High. pic.twitter.com/LrIQZ3LhSg
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 3, 2015
With his playing options limited, Prince began focusing more on music, and the rest is purple-and-lace-bedecked history. But he never lost his love for basketball, showing up recently at a Warriors-Thunder game:
Prince also continued to play basketball even when he was PRINCE, most memorably satirized in this story from Eddie Murphy's brother Charlie on the "Dave Chappelle Show." (Language NSFW, story hilarious.)
Basketball's loss was the world's gain.