Harlem Globetrotter legend Curly Neal died March 26 in his Houston suburb home at the age of 77. No official cause of death was given.
Known for his dynamic dribbling and shooting, Neal was a member of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985. Wearing the number 22 jersey, Neal played 6,000 games in 97 countries over his 22 year career. Over their 93 year history, he is one of only eight Globetrotters to have his uniform Jersey retired, Neal’s number 22 hangs from the rafters at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Even after his retirement from playing on the court, Neal remained with the Globetrotters as a promotional ambassador.
Globetrotters General Manager Jeff Munn spoke on Neal saying, “we have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known. His 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.”
Fred Neal was born May 19, 1942 in Greensboro, North Carolina where he attended James B. Dudley High School. At Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte where he scored over 23 points a game. In 2008 he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and is a member of the Harlem Globetrotters “Legends” ring.
Neal’s survivors include his wife of over 40 years Rose.
feature photo credit: taken from the Harlem Globetrotter’s Facebook page.