Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred "Curly" Neal died Thursday morning at his home near Houston. He was 77.
Known for his shaved head and dribbling wizardry, Neal played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries for the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985.
"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said. "Curly's basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide."
In 2008, Neal became the fifth Globetrotters player to have his jersey retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon and Goose Tatum. His No. 22 was raised to the rafters at New York's Madison Square Garden.
The Greensboro, N.C., native starred at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte before joining the barnstorming entertainers. Neal was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
As one of the truly magical dribblers & shooters in basketball history, Curly Neal did it all during his 22 seasons with the #HarlemGlobetrotters! Curly’s skills, personality, and passion for the sport of basketball can still be seen in the way we play today! #fbf #basketball pic.twitter.com/fuyh14G5UI— Harlem Globetrotters (@Globies) March 13, 2020