Fred “Curly” Neal, the legendary Harlem Globetrotters player, passed away at his home in Houston on Thursday (March 26). He was 77.
“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. “Curly’s basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions.”
The charismatic ball player known for his signature bald head (which earned him the nickname of “Curly” after The Three Stooges character), served as the Globetrotters’ featured ball handler, and became the face of the team for more than two decades.
Born on May, 19, 1942 in Greensboro, N.C., Neal attended Greensboro-Dudley High School and Johnson C. Smith University, where he played on the basketball team averaging 23.1 points per game.
His career as a Globetrotter began in 1963. Neal played in more than 6,000 games over 22 seasons and entertained audience around the world. The Globetrotters retired his number 22 jersey during a 2008 ceremony at Madison Square Garden making him the fifth player in Globetrotters history to have his jersey retired.
Neal lived in Houston with his fiancé , Linda Ware, until his death. He is survived by Ware, two daughters, and six grandchildren.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 26, 2020