The Harlem Globetrotters frontman and Hall of Famer Meadowlark Lemon died on Sunday at the age of 83. He was one of the most well-known members of this humorous and unique basketball team, and inherited the nickname of the “Clown Prince of Basketball.”
His wife, Cynthia Lemon, has confirmed the sad news, according to the New York Times. The couple has 10 children together, five girls and five boys. They lived in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is where he passed away over the weekend. The cause of death has not been disclosed.
The Harlem Globetrotters also acknowledged the legend’s passing on their official Twitter account, saying that they are deeply saddened by the news of his death.
Lemon had a gift for humor and with a basketball in his hand, it worked perfectly for a terrific performance. He combined the two to provide quite the show for fans along with his fellow Globetrotters. His career with the famous team started back in 1954 after he had just come out of the Army. Before that time, he played his favorite sport briefly for Florida A&M.
Meadow Lemon III, his given name, grew up in North Carolina and was said to have dreams of becoming a part of the Harlem Globetrotters when he got older. He recalled his dream in his speech when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He was just 11-years-old when he remembers seeing the Harlem Globetrotters for the first time.
“When they got to the basketball court, they seemed to make that ball talk… I said, ‘That’s mine; this is for me.’ I was receiving a vision. I was receiving a dream in my heart.”
His dream eventually came true as the team traveled around the world, showing off their crazy antics, making people laugh around the world. The basketball star eventually became known for his famous hook shots, his no-look, wrap-around pass, and his charisma on and off the basketball court. People loved all 6 feet, 3 inches of him.
After spending 24 years in the spotlight as part of the famous team, Lemon eventually left the Globetrotters in 1978 after a contract dispute. However, his career was certainly not over as he continued to stay on the basketball court, entertaining people late in his years. He did form a few of his own traveling teams called Meadowlark Lemon’s Bucketeers, the Shooting Stars, and Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All-Stars.
He also went on to be inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. Later in his years, in 1986, he became an ordained Christian minister. Nine years later, the former Globetrotters star and his wife Cynthia formed a nonprofit evangelistic organization called Meadowlark Lemon Ministries.
According to Lemon’s official website, the Globetrotters played 350 games per year. His own personal record was over 16,000 career games. Now that is something to talk about.
Even famous NBA player Wilt Chamberlain had nothing but great things to say about the former Harlem Globetrotters star. Wilt had this to say in an interview in 1999.
“Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I’ve ever seen. People would say it would be Dr. J or even Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.”
The legendary player also landed quite a few stints in shows, such as Diff’rent Strokes and Alice. The Harlem Globetrotters even became a cartoon back in 1970, where Meadowlark lent his voice for the animated show. Lasting only a year, it still became a favorite among young viewers, as well as older fans.
[Photo by Dave Pickoff/AP Images]