No joking, Lemon's message anything but sour

Globetrotter speaks at banquet, serves as grand marshal of parade

Globetrotter speaks at banquet, serves as grand marshal of parade

October 25, 2002|by MEG H. PARTINGTON

The "Clown Prince of Basketball" will be the king of several events next weekend.

Meadowlark Lemon, the famed Harlem Globetrotter, will be the keynote speaker at the banquet and fund-raiser to celebrate Hagerstown Junior Basketball League Inc.'s 55th season the evening of Friday, Nov. 1, at Grace Academy in Hagerstown. He will then lead youth rallies Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11 a.m. and noon in the food court at Valley Mall. At 7 p.m. that day, he will be the grand marshal of the 78th Annual Alsatia Mummers' Parade in downtown Hagerstown.

"We are ecstatic, excited" about Lemon's visit, said Hagerstown Junior Basketball League President Ken Welch. His visit is the result of "a lot of negotiations," Welch said.

Welch said Lemon is an inspiration because he set a goal - to become a Harlem Globetrotter - then worked hard to attain it.


Lemon, who received the Basketball Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, started his journey to the Globetrotters at age 11 after he saw a newsreel about the team and set his heart on becoming a member.

The Wilmington, N.C., native didn't have much money, so he used an empty milk can as a basketball and fashioned a hoop from an onion sack and coat hanger, according to press materials. He played basketball rigorously in high school, sometimes practicing eight to 12 hours a day.

His tenacity paid off.

Before his high school graduation, the Harlem Globetrotters asked Lemon to join them. He agreed, but first, he did a two-year stint with the armed forces.

In his 24 years with the Globetrotters, he traveled more than 4 million miles and played 9,925 consecutive games. He plans to play his 10,000th career game this year at a major city yet to be selected.

After leaving the team in 1979, Lemon took ownership of his own team, The Bucketeers. Then his career went in seemingly countless directions.

He appeared in the feature films "Modern Romance" and "The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh," and had several television roles, including starring with McLean Stevenson in the series "Hello, Larry."

Lemon has also dabbled in music, recording the albums "My Kids" and "Welcome to My World."

In 1986, Lemon traveled down yet another path, becoming an ordained minister. In 1998, he received his doctorate of divinity from Vision International University.

Through Meadowlark Lemon Ministries Inc., Lemon visits churches, prisons, youth groups, schools and inner-city areas spreading the word of God.

Camp Meadowlark, a co-ed sports camp Lemon created in 1989, educates children about the dangers of substance abuse and offers them alternatives. Lemon's message: "If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."

Lemon also hosts "The Meadowlark Lemon Show," which is televised nationally and internationally through the Trinity Broadcasting Network and syndication. The mission of the show, according to press materials, is to present positive examples of success through the lives and testimonies of sports and entertainment celebrities.

The father of five daughters and five sons is married to Cynthia, a doctor of naturopathy.

Magic of Meadowlark Weekend

Friday, Nov. 1:

Banquet/fund-raiser to celebrate the 55th season of Hagerstown Junior Basketball League Inc., featuring Meadowlark Lemon as the keynote speaker. Entertainment by Bill Haley's Comets, featuring John "Bam Bam" Lane and Frederick, Md., native Demetri Callas. Grace Academy, 13321 Cearfoss Pike, Hagerstown. Doors open at 6 p.m.; dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.; event ends at 10:30 p.m. This is a non-alcoholic, smoke-free event. Tickets cost $40 per person and are on sale through Monday, Oct. 28. For tickets, call 301-733-9156.

Saturday, Nov. 2:

Youth rallies, at which Lemon will speak. Food court at Valley Mall, Hagerstown. 11 a.m. and noon. Free.

78th Annual Alsatia Mummers' Parade, featuring Lemon as grand marshal. Downtown Hagerstown. 7 p.m.

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