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JCSU community saddened by the loss of Fred "Curly" Neal '75

Fred Neal with JCSU Cheerleaders

It is with tremendous sorrow that Johnson C. Smith University shares the loss of Fred "Curly" Neal, a 1975 alumnus who was a former member of the Harlem Globetrotters and the Golden Bulls basketball team. 

JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister expressed sadness at the loss of Neal, who was not only a talented basketball player but also a global goodwill ambassador. “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," Armbrister said. "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 played in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries from 1963 to 1985 with the Globetrotters, making him one of the world's most recognized faces. In addition to being known as one of the greatest all-time dribblers, Neal was an incredible shooter and had a knack for hitting shots from beyond the mid-court mark. During his time at Johnson C. Smith University, Neal averaged 23.1 points per game and was named an All-CIAA guard. He was inducted in the CIAA Hall of Fame in 1986 and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. The Harlem Globetrotters presented Neal with the team’s prestigious “Legends” ring in 1993 and retired his #22 jersey in 2008.

JCSU Director of Athletics Stephen Joyner Sr. ’73 acknowledged the contributions Neal made in advancing sports internationally. “Curly Neal is an important part of Johnson C. Smith University's basketball history and the history of Black college basketball,” said Joyner. “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 have not been announced. 

Curly Neal in front of the Student Union

Curly Neal shaking hands

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