One of the most recognizable players and entertainers in Harlem Globetrotters history, Fred “Curly” Neal died Thursday at his home outside Houston. 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 issued by the team. “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.”
Neal was a Globetrotter from 1963 to 1985 where he played in more than 6,000 games with the team thrilling crowds with his ballhandling and showmanship. He later became just the fifth Globetrotter to ever have his number retired.