By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Fred “Curly” Neal has passed away. The Harlem Globetrotters legend died early Thursday morning at 77 at his residence near Houston, Texas.
An official cause of death has not been released at this time. However, according to team spokesman, Brett Meister, the Senior Vice President of Communications, Neal did not die as a cause of the coronavirus outbreak that has impacted thousands of people around the world.
“Not coronavirus,” Meister said in an email to The Capital Sports Report.
During his Globetrotters career, he was one of the team’s premiere players. He also played a key role in the team’s exhibition tour.
He competed 22 seasons for the Globetrotters from 1963 through 1985. He appeared in more than 6,000 games during the 22 seasons that included visits to 97 countries.
Neal had his jersey retired by the team in 2008. This happened on February 15, 2008 at Madison Square Garden during “Curly Neal Weekend.”
When his jersey was retired by the team 12-years-ago, he was just the fifth player, who had his jersey retired by the Globetrotters. At the time, his jersey retirement joined Wilt Chamberlain’s No. 13, Meadowlark Lemon’s No. 36, Marques Haynes’ No. 20, and Goose Tatum’s No. 50.
Several days before his Globetrotters jersey retirement, he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame on January 31, 2008. Neal also attended Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. When he was in college, he averaged 23.1 points per game.
He is survived by his fiancée Linda Ware, and his two daughters Rocurl and Laverne Neal. He also had six grandchildren, including David, Dante, Jayden, Brandon, Deja, and Hailey.