September 19, 2013
By Antonio Harvey
Special to the NNPA from the Sacramento Obserever
SACRAMENTO — When Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson became the first Black player to play in Major League Baseball (MLB), he and his wife, Rachel Robinson, were under continuous scrutiny and blatant bigotry, from a section of society that cared not to see change.
Robinson, who played first in the Negro Leagues, went on to smash the baseball color line, when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947.
Other Blacks soon followed him into the majors.
For the most part, a member of the Black press was with the Robinsons chronicling their travails and triumphs, as the reporter himself quietly dealt with his own battles and racial issues, Mrs. Robinson said as she spoke at the State Capitol earlier this week.
Wendell Smith, a sportswriter with The Pittsburgh Courier, traveled with Jackie Robinson. The baseball great had to stay in separated hotels from his teammates due to Jim Crow laws in the deep south. Robinson had to put up with racism on and off the field, while his writing companion Smith garnered prejudice sitting far outside of the mainstream press rooms.
“Wendell Smith was an amazing source of support for us,” Mrs. Robinson said of their relationship with the Black reporter.
“There are aspects of that early period (of integrating Major League Baseball) that I don’t know if we could have lived through without Wendell,” she stated.
Mrs. Robinson was invited to the State Capitol by State Sen. Roderick D. Wright and the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) for a day of recognition on the Senate and Assembly floors. She also joined the legislators and elected leaders from Sacramento for a special screening of the film, “42,” at the Crest Theatre.
The movie “42,” the iconic number that Jackie Robinson wore on his uniform, showcases how Robinson was forced to demonstrate his courage and restraint, not reacting to the racism shown him after the Dodgers’ Branch Rickey signed him to make his historical stand.
Indirectly, the film also put a spotlight on Smith’s role as Robinson slowly silenced the critics and gained support of the fans. The Pittsburgh Courier paid for Smith to escort the Robinsons from town to town and from city to city.
At the ballparks, Smith, who covered the Negro Baseball League, could not report or write stories in the mainstream press boxes because of his color and the fact that he was not a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA).
Mrs. Robinson told The Observer that Smith never worried her or her husband about his dilemmas that were just as negative as Jackie Robinson’s. Smith was later accepted as a member in the BWAA and advanced to become a sports reporter for the mainstream press, including the Chicago Sun-Times.
“He (Smith) did not burden us with what he was going through,” Mrs. Robinson told The Observer.
“We really didn’t know much about how he was being treated. But he was like a big brother. He was very close to us. He was a great reporter,” she stated.
Jackie Robinson passed away in 1972 and Smith died one month later.
A year after Robinson’s passing, Mrs. Robinson founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF). The JRF is one of the nation’s premier education and leadership development programs.
The Foundation transcends financial assistance and prepares its scholarship recipients with support services, internship placements, and career guidance.
Mrs. Robinson was accompanied to the State Capitol by Della Britton Baeza, the President and CEO of the Foundation. Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles), on the Assembly floor, introduced House Resolution 24 (HR-24), a bill that would rename Manchester and Firestone Boulevard in Los Angeles after Mrs. Robinson’s iconic husband.
“Hopefully, we will have an 100-percent voter participation from the House in moving that legislature forward,” Bradford said of HR-24.
Mrs. Robinson met Jackie when they both attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1941.
“Isn’t she just fabulous at her age,” Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) said of Mrs. Robinson, who just turned 92. “She gives me hope,” said Assemblywoman Mitchell.
They married in 1946 and became the parents of three children.
Mrs. Robinson pursued a career in psychiatric nursing and was later an assistant professor at Yale School of Nursing followed by a stint as the Director of Nursing at the Connecticut Mental Health Center.
September 19, 2013
Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American
Miami Heat star LeBron James married longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson in San Diego on Saturday.
Sources close to the couple told the Associated Press that the wedding took place at the Grand Del Mar Hotel and included about 200 guests.
James and Brinson have yet to give out any details regarding their ceremony and so the sources spoke under anonymity. They had a three day celebration including the ceremony on Saturday and a brunch on Sunday
James and Brinson have been together since high school and have two sons.
James popped the big question just after midnight on Jan. 1, 2012 in Miami Beach.
The wedding included extreme security measures to keep the specific details from the press and public. Even guests were unclear of the exact details in the days leading up to the event.
The guests arrived with umbrellas to shield their identity and were taken to the wedding area, which was covered in tents.
Heat owner Micky Arison, coach Erik Spoelstra and many of James’ teammates including Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were on the guest list.
None of the guests released any details about the wedding Saturday and word is no cell phones were allowed during the ceremony.
Information from Eurweb.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
September 12, 2013
By Donald Hunt
Special to the NNPA from The Philadelphia Tribune
Allen Iverson is preparing to officially announce his retirement from the NBA soon according to a SLAM Web report. Iverson hasn’t played an NBA game since 2010 when he played for the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2011, he played professional basketball in Turkey.
Iverson, 38, played 13 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 26.7 points a game for his career during the regular season. In the playoffs, he tallied 29.7 points a game. Interviewed at a Sixers’ game on March 30, Iverson told SLAM, “My No. 1 goal is trying to accomplish to be the best dad that I can. And if basketball is in my near future, then God will make that happen. But if not, I had a great ride and I’ve done a lot of special things that a lot of guys have not been able to accomplish and people thought I couldn ‘t accomplish.”
Iverson played six years (1997-2003) for head coach Larry Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers, who now coaches SMU. Brown has vivid memories of coaching one of the NBA’s most explosive players.
“He might be the greatest athlete I’ve ever seen,” Brown told SLAM. “I don’t think there will be another one like him.”
Iverson was a tremendous scholastic basketball and football player at Bethel High School in Hampton, Va. He played his college basketball at Georgetown University from 1994 to 1996. The 6-foot, 165-pound shooting guard, was chosen by the Sixers with No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. He was selected the NBA Rookie of the Year during the 1996-97 season. Iverson was named Most Valuable Player during the 2000-2001 season. That year, he led the Sixers to the NBA Finals.
He won four league scoring crowns. Iverson was selected to 11 NBA All-Star Games. He won the MVP honors in the 2001 NBA All-Star Game as well as 2005. He played for the Sixers from 1996 to 2006.
In 2006, he was traded to the Denver Nuggets. He played two seasons for the Nuggets. In 2008, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons where he played for one season. In 2009, he signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. That same year, the Sixers re-acquired him.
According to SLAM, Iverson will be eligible for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.
September 12, 2013
By Chris B. Bennett
Special to the NNPA from The Seattle Medium
The University of Washington Huskies’ football team has a long and storied history. Depending on what side of the street you sit on that history can be either good or bad.
A few years ago, much to the dismay of many in the African American community, the University of Washington honored former head football coach Jim Owens by placing a statue of his likeness in front of the entrance to Husky Stadium. There are those who refer to Owens as a legendary coach, although his name is not among the four Husky football coaches inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Last weekend, I attended the first football game in the newly renovated Husky Stadium. There was much fanfare about the new facility and the venue is top notch. One of the things that caught my attention during the game was that two UW players were wearing the number “1” on their jersey – the same number worn by NFL Hall of Famer and former UW quarterback Warren Moon.
As I thought about the history of the UW football program, I wondered why Warren Moon’s jersey had not been retired. After all, he was the MVP of the 1978 Rose Bowl in which the Huskies upset the highly favored Michigan Wolverines. That game marked the Huskies first bowl appearance since 1964 and first bowl victory since 1961.
As it relates to Husky football, there is no doubt that Warren Moon is legendary. However, it was his accomplishments at the pro level that are even more extraordinary. Over the course of his 23-year career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the NFL, Moon threw for 70,533 yards and 435 touchdowns. In 2005, Moon became the first African American quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Upon further investigation, I discovered that the University of Washington has retired the numbers of only three football players – (2) Chuck Carroll, (33) George Wilson and (44) Roland Kirby. Carroll played during the late 1920’s and helped lead the Huskies to a 28-4 record during his collegiate career. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1964. Wilson, a three time All-American halfback during the mid 1920’s, was Washington’s first consensus All-American. Kirby was a member of the Husky’s fearsome foursome backfield in 1950 that featured Hugh McElhenny, Don Heinrich and Bill Early.
In reading the UW Gameday magazine, I saw an advertisement for the Big W Club Jersey Retirement that highlighted four former Huskies who were having their jerseys retired during the 2013-2014 season. According to the advertisement, “For a jersey to be retired, a student-athlete must win the national player of the year award in their respective sport.”
This appears to be short-sighted by whoever implemented this policy. This explains why the last Husky football player to have his number retired played back in the 1950s.
It appears that this policy needs to be re-addressed and the school needs to seriously consider the retirement of Warren Moon’s jersey. When you talk about legends and ambassadors of the game of football, Warren Moon’s name is certainly among the best of the best. Personally, I believe that it’s a travesty that 35 years after leading his team to one of the most historic Bowl wins in school history the University of Washington has failed to properly honor the achievements of Warren Moon by retiring his jersey.
Warren Moon was part of the beginning of a Husky football legacy that laid the foundation for the new Husky Stadium to be built. Without the football tradition that began in the late 70’s, we probably would not be talking about Rose Bowl victories, national championships and competing for top recruits. Warren Moon is one of the prominent faces of Husky football and it’s time for the Huskies to retire his jersey and truly honor the most accomplished football player the history of the school.
September 12, 2013
Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily World
Atlanta’s own multimedia personality Rashan Ali will begin her stint as a sideline reporter for CBS Sports this fall.
As the 2013 college football season gets into full swing, the network has tapped Ali, best known to Atlantans for her presence on the city’s morning radio airwaves, to provide sports commentary from the sidelines of college football games that will air this fall nationally on the CBS Sports Network. Games featured will include long-time, exciting rivalries like Fordham University vs. LeHigh University and Southern Miss vs. Marshall.
Ali worked as a Sports Reporter while at HOT 107.9 in Atlanta and was invited to become a sideline reporter for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, which she did for four years. In 2009, Ali became one of few African American women providing sports commentary on a national scale as a reporter for the Chic-Fil-A Bowl Preview Show, which aired on ESPN 2 and ESPN U. She continued her work as the Social Media Correspondent during the 2010 & 2011 NBA Playoffs on NBA TV’s NBA Gametime Live, where she worked with analysts like Eric Snow and Chris Webber.
Most recently, Ali has been active on the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) football Classic circuit, providing live reporting from the inaugural Nation’s Classic, which featured Howard University vs. Morehouse College in Washington, DC and the Atlanta Football Classic, which featured Southern University against her alma mater Florida A&M University. She was also a sideline reporter for Southern Conference Football during the 2011-2012 season.
“Covering college football on a major network is such an honor. I have always loved the essence of college football so to be on the sideline in this capacity is truly a dream come true,” said Ali. “There are some great teams being featured on the network that I’ve continued to follow over the years, so having the opportunity to work with their coaching staffs and players is monumental.”
In addition to her career as a sports commentator, Ali is also the host of the “Streetz Morning Grind” radio show on Streetz 94.5 FM in Atlanta, where she will continue to be featured weekdays from 6 am – 10 am. She will also continue her work with Sporty Girls, Inc., an Atlanta-based non-profit organization she founded that exposes girls ages 8 – 18 to nontraditional sports like golf, soccer, tennis and swimming to help them improve social skills and academic performance while increasing their chances for collegiate scholarships.