Carl Helem, who helped transform the Harlem Globetrotters into the global presence they are today, became the 15th person to receive the distinguished Harlem Globetrotters "Legends" Ring on Dec. 30, 1999, at the Firstar Center in Cincinnati. Helem played with the Globetrotters for nearly eight years (1948-55) during a magical era of the storied organization. He took part in the World Series of Basketball, an annual competitive series of games against the nation’s top college seniors, and experienced the Globetrotters’ first-ever overseas tours in 1950. The team was also featured in two motion pictures ("The Harlem Globetrotters" and "Go Man Go!") during Helem’s Globetrotter career, defeated the world champion Minneapolis Lakers in both 1948 and 1949, and introduced "Sweet Georgia Brown" as its theme song.
Originally from Horse Cave, Ky., Helem led Horse Cave High School to consecutive state basketball championships in 1944 and 1945 and was a two-time all-state selection. He moved on to Tennessee State University and topped his team in scoring as a freshman and twice earned All-Midwest honors during his three-year career. Following his Globetrotter career, Helem joined the Ashland Oil & Refining Company, now known as Ashland Inc., and worked for the company for over 35 years until his retirement in 1990. Helem passed away on Feb. 17, 2001.
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