Former Harlem Globetrotters standout and Indiana basketball star Hallie Bryant, who helped lead the Indiana Hoosiers to the Big Ten Conference title in 1957, was the 28th person honored by the Globetrotters with the team’s "Legends" award on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Jan. 19, 2009 – at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Interestingly, Bryant was offered the "Legends" honor in 1998, but he selflessly asked that it instead be bestowed upon his Globetrotter teammate, and childhood friend, Willie Gardner, who was suffering from diabetes at the time. Gardner, who played three seasons with the Globetrotters and had signed a contract with the New York Knicks before a heart condition forced him to retire, passed away in 2000.
"I guess now is the right time for me," Bryant said when the "Legends" award was offered again in 2009. "When I was approached back in 1998, I knew that Willie was in poor health, and I thought it would be more appropriate to pay homage to a man who had been like a brother to me, so I respectfully asked the team to give the honor to Willie."
A life-long resident of Indiana, Bryant graduated from historical Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, was Indiana’s "Mr. Basketball" in 1953, was a three-year letter winner at Indiana University, and is a member of the state of Indiana and IU Basketball Halls of Fame. Following a two-year stretch as a commissioned officer of the U.S. Army, Bryant joined the Globetrotters for what would be a 27-year career. Bryant visited more than 87 countries in 13 years as a player, and then continued his relationship with the organization as an official spokesperson and director of team personnel.
"It is with great pride that we honor Hallie Bryant with our ‘Legends’ ring," said Globetrotters’ CEO Kurt Schneider. "He continues to live his life in the true spirit of a Harlem Globetrotter, always thinking of others and giving back to the community every chance he gets. Globetrotter icons Curly Neal and Tex Harrison highly recommended Hallie for this honor, and there is no better endorsement than that."