While details are not widely available, the news is spreading that basketball legend Fred “Curly” Neal has died at the age of 77. Neal was a member of the popular Harlem Globetrotters troupe and one of its most recognizable members.
As shared in a tweet by fellow former Globetrotters member Curley “Boo” Johnson, Neal passed away Wednesday night at his Houston, Texas home. A report from HBCU Gameday added a few more details.
From HBCU Gameday:
Neal was born May 19, 1942 in Greensboro, NC and attended Dudley High School. He competed in the CIAA as a member of the Golden Bulls. He would go on to spend 22 seasons with the Globetrotters from 1963 through 1985.
His popularity was due not only to his entertaining skills on the court, but his personality on television.
To the outlet’s point, Neal’s signature bald head and ironic nickname made him stand out for certain, but it was his amazing dribbling skills that were also on display. Neal toured with the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985 and appeared in over 6,000 games and more than 95 countries. Neal and the Globetrotters were so popular that they were immortalized in the Hanna-Barbera animated series named after them.
The Globetrotters retired Neal’s #22 jersey at a February 2008 ceremony at New York’s Madison Square Garden, becoming just the fifth Globetrotter to have their numbers retired.
While the news is still fresh for many, basketball fans on Twitter are sharing their condolences and we join them in wishing a restful and powerful peace for the great Curly Neal and we also extend warm. thoughts to his family, friends, and fans worldwide.
Keep spinning that ball, #22!
UPDATE: The Harlem Globetrotters pay tribute to Fred “Curly” Neal in the tweet below.