Harlem Globetrotters legend Meadowlark Lemon to appear at Fairfield University

Image: Meadowlark LemonHarlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, a basketball hall of famer turned activist, author and inspirational speaker, will be the featured guest at the next Open VISIONS Forum at Fairfield University on Monday, February 13 at 8p.m. at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Tickets are $45.

Lemon, a man the Los Angeles Times called "an American institution," will discuss his storied basketball career, his book, Trust Your Next SHOT: A Guide to a Life of Joy, and his work to help America's youth shoot for positive, joy-filled lives, and take questions from the audience during his appearance. After his talk, "Globetrotting into Civil Rights," he will be joined for a discussion with Fairfield Men's Basketball Head Coach Sydney Johnson; Dr. Yohuru Williams, associate professor of history and director of Fairfield's Black Studies Program; and Open VISIONS Forum moderator Dr. Philip Eliasoph, professor of art history. Taryn Johnson, the top scorer on Fairfield's women's basketball team, will introduce Lemon. A book signing will follow the formal program.

"Meadowlark Lemon has spent a career not only entertaining millions of Americans, but serving as an ambassador for peace and justice," said Dr. Williams. "I look forward to sharing reflections on his storied career and the struggle for social justice both at home and abroad."

For 22 years, Lemon, known as the "Clown Prince of Basketball," toured the world with the Harlem Globetrotters, thrilling fans with his trademark hook shot and a special brand of slapstick comedy that easily crossed language barriers. By the end of his on-court career he had played in an astounding 16,000 games and gained easy entry into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

In his nationally syndicated column, Los Angeles Times sports writer Jim Murray referred to Lemon as "...an American institution whose uniform should hang alongside the Spirit of St. Louis and the Gemini Space Capsule in the halls of the Smithsonian Institute."

Lemon's rise to fame embodies the American Dream. A native of Wilmington, North Carolina, he practiced hoops on the local playground. When he was 11, he saw a newsreel about the Harlem Globetrotters and decided then and there he was going to play for the team someday. Having no money for a driveway hoop, he rigged up an onion sack on a coat hanger and used an empty milk can for his first two-point shot on his "home court."

But the inauspicious beginnings paid off: By high school, Lemon was a sought-after player who practiced and played in games for hours a day. Shortly before graduation, he was contacted by the Globetrotters, but he spent two years in the military before he could join the team. The commitment required of Globetrotters was immense: Lemon traveled by car, bus, train and plane nearly every day, averaging more than 325 games a year. He estimates he traveled more than four million miles and played in more than 100 countries, counting popes, kings, queens and presidents among his audiences.

In 1979, Lemon left the team to pursue another dream, his own basketball team, The Bucketeers. He also took time out to appear in feature films from Albert Brooks' Modern Romance to The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh and several television shows. He even voiced his animated counterpart in the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon series.

The multitalented Lemon also took to the recording studio, creating two albums, My Kids and Welcome to My World, which includes the Globetrotters' theme song "Sweet Georgia Brown."

In 1986, Lemon followed another path, when he became an ordained minister. He received his doctorate of divinity from Vision International University in 1998 and stars on Trinity Broadcasting Network's The Meadowlark Lemon Show.

Lemon strives to reach today's youth through Camp Meadowlark, a co-ed sports camp founded in 1989 to educate and offer children alternatives to the dangers of substance abuse. He and his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, a naturopathic doctor, also founded the Meadowlark Lemon Foundation, an organization dedicated to "changing lives to change the world."

Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396 (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at www.fairfield.edu/quick.

The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit www.fairfield.edu/quick.

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Media Contact: Mike Horyczun, (203) 254-4000 ext. 2647, mhoryczun@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 2, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 182

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