Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Death of a legend

In December 1963 I was a lowly high school freshman, afraid of my own shadow, a timid fourteen year old.

Midterm there was lots of buzz about a new student who had transferred to our school in his senior year. He was a star basketball player bound for the big times.

I had no interaction with this nice, giant of a guy, but I have a vivid memory of passing him on the stairs as I was going to and from the lunchroom. Long-legged and playful, Jo Jo White graduated in 1964 and went on to become a Boston Celtic, represented the U.S. in the Olympics in 1968, and he won numerous awards.

Whenever I saw him on the big screen, I bragged that I saw him in action as he dribbled down the court when the faculty played the students. The game was covered by a local radio station. The fans in the stands went wild, the cheering was deafening.

Jo Jo passed away yesterday at age 71 from pneumonia and dementia related to brain surgery for a benign tumor years ago.

When he was in high school strategy sessions, he often dozed off, and his coach would wake him with a shout, "Joe! Joe!" That is how Joseph Henry White, the seventh and youngest child of a minister became the famous Jo Jo White.

The photo is of an accomplished senior citizen, but in my mind Jo Jo will always be that lanky kid hooping it up, making pretend baskets as he bounded up the school steps to an from classes.   


Val said...

I'm not a big basketball fan, but I've heard of him. Now I know how he got that name.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--I know you've had lots of brushes with greatness. This is just the most recent one you've written about.

Susan Sundwall said...

What a nice tribute, Linda. Being near greatness is always a thrill, no?

Connie said...

I am not familiar with the name, but this was a nicely written tribute to his memory.

Pat Wahler said...

Very sad news and a bittersweet memory.