Olympic Gold Medalist and NBA Hall of Famer, Don Barksdale – A Friend of My Grandparents

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.

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