Greensboro’s Harlem Globetrotter Curly Neal(Dudley HS) passes away at 77

Fred “Curly” Neal passed away today (Thursday, March 26,2020) in Houston, Texas.

Curly was born May 19, 1942 in Greensboro. He attended Dudley High School.

More from HBCU Gameday

More from the News & Record.

Here is some great info on Curly Neal coming in from his Bio page at the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame website:
Curly wore #22 and played for 22 seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters…..
(Inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2008)…..

Fred “Curly” Neal 2008

One of the truly magical dribblers and shooters in basketball history, Fred “Curly” Neal embraced the imagination of fans all over the world, playing in more than 6,000 games in 97 countries as a key member of the World Famous Harlem Globetrotters. Number 22 played for 22 seasons in the red, white and blue, from 1963 to 1985. In addition to being known as one of the greatest all-time dribblers, “Curly” was an incredible shooter.

“Curly” was part of one of the most extraordinary eras in the team’s history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including “ABC’s Wide World of Sports,” “The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine,” and “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.” He was also immortalized in animation on “The Harlem Globetrotters” cartoon series and on episodes of “Scooby Doo.”

Still sporting the trademark shaved head, wide smile and infectious laugh that made him a pop culture icon for decades, “Curly’s” number 22 Globetrotter jersey was retired by the team at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, during the team’s performance in New York on Feb. 15, 2008. “Curly” became just the fifth Globetrotter in the team’s illustrious 82-year history to have his jersey number retired, joining some of the biggest names in basketball lore: Wilt Chamberlain (13), Meadowlark Lemon (36), Marques Haynes (20) and Goose Tatum (50).

“Curly Neal represents the purity of sport and everything that is great about the Globetrotters and the game of basketball,” said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider. “He helped build this organization into a worldwide phenomenon, and he truly personifies wholesome family entertainment and elicits fond memories for millions of fans around the world.”

“Curly” is also one of only 27 people honored in the Harlem Globetrotters’ prestigious “Legends” ring, presented to those who have made a major contribution to the success and the development of the Globetrotters organization. A special advisory board selects honorees that have excelled off the court, in athletic ability, showmanship, humanitarian contributions, and crowd appeal. “Curly” was inducted into the Globetrotters’ “Legends” ring on June 25, 1993.

After an outstanding career at James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, N.C., “Curly” moved on to Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., where he averaged over 23 points per game and led his team to the CIAA title his senior year. He lived in Greensboro/Houston with his wife, Rose, and continued to make appearances for the Globetrotters as an “Ambassador of Goodwill.”


  1. They are calling Curly Neal One of the great ambassadors/entertainers of basketball….

    Curly played college basketball for the Bulls, at Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte and he is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame…

    You can not think of Curly Neal without thinking about Meadowlark Lemon, of Wilmington, N.C.

    Spinning the basketball on their fingers, dribbling and passing the basketball behind their backs and between their legs and all of the wild shots that they could make, the Harlem Globetrotters were some kind of teat to see back in their heyday….

    Any time you had the chance to see them on TV you would be watching, whenever you heard that tune “Sweet Georgia Brown”, you would think of the Harlem Globetrotters, with Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon…

    That bald shiny head and his basketball skills made Fred “Curly” Neal famous and helped put the city he loved, Greensboro, and he high school he loved, James B. Dudley High School, he put them on the map……

    Thank-you Fred “Curly” Neal…Rest in Peace/RIP….

  2. Some of the Curly Neal comments coming in at Twitter:
    (Got some real good tweets on here for you to read, in regards to Curly Neal….

    16 WAPT News
    Legendary Harlem Globetrotter Curly Neal passes away
    Curly Neal of Harlem Globetrotters fame dies at age 77.

    Curly Neal passed away today at the age of 77.

    The man was a basketball pioneer, introducing new dribbling moves to the whole world during his career with the Globetrotters. One time for his contributions to the game.
    Harlem Globetrotters

    Kyle Franzoni
    RIP Curly Neal, the legendary Harlem Globetrotter! You’ll always be a legend for what you did on the basketball court, but I’ll always remember you for how you helped Scooby-Doo and the Gang! #RIPCurly

    Dean Cain
    RIP Curly Neal… you will be missed. Thank you for so many awesome memories. Always my favorite Globetrotter. Folded hands
    Harlem Globetrotters

    Between 1963 and 1985 – before the internet and cable television really existed-it was Curly Neal and the Harlem Globetrotters who first introduced the sport of basketball to millions of people around the world for the first time.

    Adam Schefter

    Harlem Globetrotters legend ‘Curly’ Neal dies at 77.
    Fred “Curly” Neal, who played 22 seasons for the Globetrotters and was just the fifth player of the organization to have his number retired, has died at the age of 77.
    Len Lumbers
    RIP Curly Neal (1942-2020). Thanks for the Saturday morning cartoons and, give or take Kojak, my earliest bald-is-beautiful memory.
    RIP Curly Neal. No one could handle a ball like you! Thank you for the wonderful memories and laughs! True great of the game!

    Live Free Or Deb Earth globe americas
    Curly Neal was the best Harlem Globetrotter ever. RIP.

    Harold King
    Fred ‘Curly’ Neal Dies, Harlem Globetrotters Legend Was 77 #Topbuzz it’s very sad R.I.P. Harold King
    The beloved Harlem Globetrotter legend was 77-years old. Globetrotters GM Jeff Munn confirmed the news. A cause of death has
    ET Canada
    Legendary #HarlemGlobetrotters star #CurlyNeal has passed away at age 77
    Harlem Globetrotters Great Curly Neal Dies At 77
    Fred “Curly” Neal, the dribbling wizard who entertained millions with the Harlem Globetrotters for parts of three decades, has died. He was 77. The Globetrotters said Neal died in his home outside of…

    Chequered flag Jamal Crawford
    Rip to the legend Curly Neal.

    Brian McCann’s Beard
    Agree 100% with Greenberg’s words here. LOVED Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon! Crying face

    Mike Greenberg
    When I was a kid, there was nothing more fun than going to see the Harlem Globetrotters. And this man was the reason. He made as many people smile as any athlete that ever lived. About as good an epitaph as you could ever have. Rest In Peace, Curly Neal. Thanks for all the fun.
    CURLY NEAL (1942-2020)
    Harlem Globetrotters

    HBCU Gameday
    #Breaking received word that Harlem Globetrotter legend Fred “Curly” Neal, a
    alumnus, has passed. #RIPCurly
    More to come.

    Fred “Curly” Neal – the Harlem Globetrotters icon known worldwide for his trademark shaved head and charismatic smile – passed away this morning in his home outside of Houston at the age of 77.

    Steve Kerr
    Hard to express how much joy Curly Neal brought to my life growing up. RIP to a legend….
    Quote Tweet

Comments are closed.