Harlem Globetrotter Curly Neal dies at 77

Catherine Garcia
The Week

Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred "Curly" Neal died Thursday at his home near Houston. He was 77.

A standout on his high school and university basketball teams, Neal played for the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985, traveling to 97 countries and appearing in more than 6,000 games. A fan favorite known for dribbling in circles around other players, Neal was also an Ambassador of Goodwill for the exhibition team. "We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn tweeted. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide."

During the 1970s, Neal and other Globetrotters had their own cartoon series, and he also was featured on The Ed Sullivan Show, Gilligan's Island, The Love Boat, and Scooby-Doo. In 1993, Neal was inducted into the Globetrotters' Legends ring, and in 2008, his No. 22 jersey was retired, an honor given to only four other Globetrotters.

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