The world of basketball fans and fans of fun, in general, were saddened to hear these words on Sunday, “Mr Meadowlark Lemon passes away.” The man who earns the title of “Clown Prince of Basketball” had fans of every age and race as he dazzling audiences across the country with his skill and antics for twenty-four years. He left Scottsdale Arizona for ‘higher courts’ at the age of 83.
His given name at birth was Meadow Lemon III. The family did not mention the cause of death.
The most famous of all Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark Lemon was not only a household name but a basketball legend. He appeared in more than sixteen-thousand of their shows through 1978. His half-court hook shots were not just luck. Lemon played b-ball for two years at Florida A&M University.
Beginning at the age of only 23, he traveled with the Globetrotters to over one hundred countries. The good-will ambassadors of basketball entertained audiences with over 350 games per year. The hapless victims known as the Washington Generals remaining good sports as they were soundly beating in their nightly exhibition. The team was found back in 1926, in Chicago.
It all started with a marketing scheme designed to promote a nightclub called the Savoy Ballroom. A young business man, only 24 at the time, created a basketball team he named The Savoy Big 5. Abe Saperstein likely had no idea that his idea would turn into a phenomenon and travel the world as the Harlem Globetrotters.
The story of how Lemon changing his name to the now-famous “Meadowlark” is a reflection of the heart within the man. He made the change back in the 1950s because Meadowlarks are knowing for their happy song, as he liks to put it. Indeed, he truly succeeded at achieving his goal of putting a song into the hearts of his millions of fans.
Unlike any player in basketball history, Meadowlark Lemon got to put on his display of talent and joy for kings, queens, a few presidents and even popes. All the while, he was always a friend to every little boy who watched. And dreaming of playing professional basketball one day.
Thank you Meadowlark for a lifetime of giving. We will miss you.