‘Curly’ Neal of the Harlem Globetrotters dies at the age of 77

GREENSBORO, N.C. — He was a Dudley High alum known for this action on the hardwood and would soon capture the world with his talent.

For years, Fred ‘Curly’ Neal has delighted basketball fans as one of the best magical dribblers and shooters in the history of basketball.

Curly Neal – the Harlem Globetrotters icon passed away Thursday morning in his home outside of Houston at the age of 77.

In his career, Neal starred at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, NC where he averaged 23 points per game and led his team to the CIAA title his senior year. He was inducted into the 2008 class of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, along with the renowned Roy Williams, coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Neal played for 22 seasons in the red, white and blue, wearing No. 22.

“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” said Globetrotters General Manager Jeff Munn. “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.”

The Harlem Globetrotters tweeted: “Fred “Curly” Neal – the Harlem Globetrotters icon known worldwide for his trademark shaved head and charismatic smile – passed away this morning in his home outside of Houston at the age of 77. “

On Feb. 15, 2008, Neal became the fifth Globetrotter in the team’s illustrious history to have his jersey number retired.

Dudley also paid their own respect to Neal by tweeting the following:

“RIP to Dudley Alum and basketball legend Fred “Curly” Neal. You brought joy to so many people through the game we love #RIPCurly

You can share your memories of watching Curly Neal by texting WFMY News 2 at 336-379-5775.

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