Former Johnson C. Smith star and Harlem Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal passes away

Former Johnson C. Smith star and Harlem Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal passes away
Former Johnson C. Smith and Harlem Globetrotter Fred "Curly" Neal passes away. (Source: Photo/Johnson C. Smith)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - One of the most famous Harlem Globetrotters Fred “Curly” Neal has passed away. Neal was also a 1975 graduate of Johnson C. Smith. Neal was 77.

“Like millions of people around the world, I remember being in awe of Curly’s skills on the basketball court and the joy I felt watching him and the other Globetrotters as they entertained us,” said Clarence D. Armbrister in a press release provided by the school. Armbrister is the President of JCSU. "His talents as a Harlem Globetrotter, and most importantly as a Golden Bull, will forever be remembered. On behalf of the entire JCSU family, I extend heartfelt condolences to Curly’s family, friends and fans.”

Neal was a member of the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985. In his time with the team he played in 97 countries around the world and participated in more than 6000 games. His dribbling exhibitions memorized fans and he also had a knack to drain half court shots. The Globetrotters retired his #22 jersey in 2008.

While at JCSU, he was an All-CIAA guard as he averaged 23 points per game. He is a member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and is also in the CIAA Hall of Fame.

“Curly Neal is an important part of Johnson C. Smith University’s basketball history and the history of Black college basketball,” said JCSU athletics director Stephen Joyner Sr. “His work as a global superstar and ambassador, even after his retirement from the Harlem Globetrotters, is proof that sports unite people and demonstrate the power of teamwork. Curly was one of the greatest ambassadors for Johnson C. Smith University, holding high the Gold and Blue around the world. His basketball accomplishments elevated the possibilities for the Black athlete at every level of amateur, collegiate and professional play. The Department of Athletics extends deep condolences to Curly’s family, friends and all who worked with him over the years.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date.

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