Globetrotters icon spent six decades with the organization as a player and coach

(PHOENIX, Nov. 20, 2014) – Charles “Tex” Harrison – an iconic figure with the Harlem Globetrotters for six amazing decades – passed away today in Houston, Texas, at the age of 81.

During his Globetrotters career, Harrison had tea with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, and he performed for three Popes. He did everything from playing alongside the immortal Wilt Chamberlin, to joining several teammates on the “Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine,” a 1972 television variety series where players sang, danced and performed comedy sketches. 

During a tour in Moscow which included a nine-game exhibition, he ate caviar with late Russian First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev. Harrison and the team also received the Athletic Order of Lenin Medal in 1959 – during the Cold War – an event that solidified Harrison and the Globetrotters as global ambassadors.

“We have lost one of the greatest members of the Globetrotters family,” said Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider.  “Few can match Tex’s commitment and contributions to the team.  From the day I joined the organization in 2007, I learned many things from Tex about the team’s heritage – things that he passed on to our new generation of Globetrotters.  His wisdom, down-to-earth demeanor and sharp wit will certainly be missed.”

Born in Gary, Ind., and raised in Houston, Harrison was discovered in 1954, when he faced the Globetrotters as a member of the College All-American team during the World Series of Basketball. While at North Carolina Central University in Durham – where he earned a degree in physical education – Harrison became the first player from a historically African-American college to capture All-American honors.  Harrison received the nickname “Tex” in college by being a very recognizable 6-3 Texan attending school in North Carolina.

“Aside from my family, being a Harlem Globetrotter has been the greatest highlight of my life,” Harrison once said.  “I have had the good fortune to be a part of the most celebrated sports team in history.”

Known to be one of the quickest players to ever play the game, Harrison estimated he traveled to more than 100 countries during his illustrious career with the Globetrotters, spending 18 years as a player before becoming a coach and advisor.

Harrison was honored by the Globetrotters with the team’s "Legends" Ring – presented to those who have made a contribution outside of basketball and played a role in the development of the Globetrotters brand – on Jan. 26, 1996, in Houston.

Sponsored by World Vision, Greyhound Lines and Baden Sports, The Harlem Globetrotters® are celebrating their 89th consecutive year, continuing a world famous tradition of ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry, and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that continues to thrill fans of all ages. Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, the largest family-owned themed entertainment company in the U.S. Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience. Proud inductees of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Globetrotters have entertained hundreds of millions of fans-among them popes, kings, queens, and presidents-over more than eight thrilling decades.