During 24 seasons as the "Clown Prince" of the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark Lemon - who passed away in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 27, 2015, at the age of 83 - played in more than 7,500 consecutive games for the red, white, and blue. He played before popes, kings, queens and presidents in nearly 100 countries around the world.
In April 1952, the Globetrotters received a letter from Meadowlark requesting a tryout. He was given a look, and after serving two years in the Army, was signed to a contract. Meadowlark played his first season with one of the Globetrotter developmental teams, the Kansas City Stars. He played his first season full season with the Globetrotters in 1954.
Meadowlark was part of an extremely popular period in Globetrotters history, appearing on several popular television programs and specials, including "ABC's Wide World of Sports," "CBS Sports Spectacular," "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Machine." He also appeared in numerous national TV commercials and was immortalized in animation on "The Harlem Globetrotters" cartoon series and on episodes of "Scooby Doo."
Meadowlark was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, three years after receiving the John W. Bunn Award, named in honor of the Hall of Fame's first executive director, recognizing outstanding lifetime contributions to basketball.
A native of Wilmington, N.C., Lemon received his Globetrotters "Legends" Ring and had his jersey (#36) retired as part of a 75th Anniversary black tie charity fund-raiser on Jan. 5, 2001, at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel. Meadowlark spent the last several years of his life as an ordained minister and motivational speaker.