|Don Barksdale is circled in yellow. Also shown are my grandmother, Leona (Whitley) Williams (far right) and her sister Coralee Whitley (second from the right)|
I just left my 92 year old maternal grandfather’s house 2 hours ago and he pointed out something to me I never knew. I showed him this photograph and he told me the gentleman circled in the picture was a friend of his named Don Barksdale. He said Barksdale played professional basketball.
Well, I looked him up and it turns out Don Barksdale played professional basketball from 1948-1955. He signed with the newly formed National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1951 to play with the Baltimore Bullets (1951-53) and later the Boston Celtics (1953-55). Barksdale was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
He also was the first African American to be named consensus NCAA All-American in 1947 and the first African American to be on the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team and won a Gold Medal in 1948.
Don Barksdale died in Oakland, California at the age of 69 on March 8, 1993.
If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.