HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM) –  Harlem Globetrotters icon Fred “Curly” Neal passed away this morning, March 26th, at his home outside of Houston Texas. He was 77 years old.

Neal was on the Globetrotters from 1963 to 1985 at the height of their popularity and appeared on numerous tv specials, talk shows, television cameos, and even cartoons. He played in 6,000 games for the team in over 97 different countries. He joined the Globetrotters after a college career at Johnson C. Smith University, where he lead the team in points his senior year as they went on to win a CIAA title.

In 1998, he was presented with the Globetrotters’ prestigious “Legends” ring for making “a major contribution to the success and the development of the Globetrotters organization.”

In 2008 Neal’s jersey was raised into the rafters at Madison Square Garden, becoming the fifth Globetrotters player to have his jersey retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon, and Goose Tatum.

“We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known,” Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said in a statement. “Curly’s basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions.”

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