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*Meadowlark Lemon was born on this date in 1932. He was a Black basketball player, actor, and Christian minister.
Meadow Lemon III was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. Lemon made his first basketball hoop out of an onion sack and a coat hanger, using an empty Carnation milk can to sink his first 2-point hoop. He attended Williston Industrial School, graduating in 1952. He attended Florida A&M University but was soon drafted into the United States Army and served for two years in Austria and West Germany.
Lemon first applied to the Harlem Globetrotters in 1954 at age 22, finally being chosen to play in 1955. In the 1970s, an animated version of Lemon, voiced by Scatman Crothers, starred with various other Globetrotters in the Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon series Harlem Globetrotters, as well as its spinoff, The Super Globetrotters. The animated Globetrotters also made three appearances in The New Scooby-Doo Movies. Lemon appeared alongside Fred "Curly" Neal, Marques Haynes, and his other Globetrotters in a live-action Saturday-morning television show, The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine, in 1974–1975, which also featured Rodney Allen Rippy and Avery Schreiber.
In 1978, Lemon appeared in a Burger King commercial by making a tower of burgers until he found double-beef pickles and onions with no-cheese burgers. In 1979, Lemon starred in the educational geography film Meadowlark Lemon Presents the World. Also, in 1979, he joined the cast of the short-lived television sitcom Hello, Larry in season two, and he played Rev. Grady Jackson in the movie The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
It was several years before he became an ordained minister himself. In 1980, he left the team to form one of his Globetrotters imitators, the Bucketeers. That same year, Lemon appeared as the basketball team's coach from The White Shadow in a series of guest skits for Order/Disorder week on 3-2-1 Contact. In 1982, Lemon was featured in the Grammy-nominated video Fun & Games, an interactive educational video produced by Optical Programming Associates and Scholastic Productions, on the then-emerging LaserDisc format. He played with the Bucketeers until 1983, then moved on to play with the Shooting Stars from 1984 to 1987.
During that time, Lemon appeared on an episode of Alice entitled "Tommy Fouls Out" and in a Charmin toilet paper commercial. Lemon had ten children: Richard, George, Beverly, Donna, Robin, Jonathan, Jamison, Angela, Crystal, and Caleb. A born-again Christian, Lemon became an ordained minister in 1986 and received a Doctor of Divinity degree from Vision International University in Ramona, California, in 1988. From 1994, he served Meadowlark Lemon Ministries in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was also featured as a gospel singer in several Gaither Homecoming videos.
Also, in 1988, he moved on to "Meadowlark Lemon's Harlem All-Stars" team. Despite being with his touring team, Lemon returned to the Globetrotters, playing 50 games with them in 1994. In 1996 season 2, episode 5 of Pinky and the Brain, titled "Brain's Song," Meadowlark Lemon was Brain's best friend in the parody of Brian's Song. As a player in 2000, Lemon received the John Bunn Award, the highest honor given by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame outside induction. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2006, on an episode of adult swim's The Boondocks entitled "The Itis," the name Meadowlark was used as the name of the park that Ed Wuncler I mentioned an interest in purchasing from the state. In 2009, on FOX's TV show The Cleveland Show, the name Meadowlark Lemon was used as a dog's name for the character of Rallo Tubbs. The dog died in the first season.
For 22 years, he was known as the "Clown Prince" of the touring Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. He played in more than 16,000 games for the Globetrotters and was a 2003 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. When basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain was asked his opinion on the best player of all time, he responded, "For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon." Fellow Wilmington great Michael Jordan called Lemon a "true national treasure" and a personal inspiration in Jordan's youth. In his last years, he took up residence in Scottsdale, Arizona, where his Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, Inc. is located. Lemon died in Scottsdale, Arizona, on December 27, 2015, at 83. No cause of death was given.