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“Sweet” Charlie Brown passed away at age 86 on August 26 due to the injuries he acquired from a fall.
Though he was born in Canton, Mississippi, most of his life was spent in Chicago, Illinois where he was a well-known man in the basketball community.
Brown was a great example of a “religious hooper.” He played the sport most of his life, from playing at DuSable High School to being an NBA prospect and finally creating the Windy City Basketball League.
During his time at DuSable High School, he and his team were the first all-Black basketball team to make it to the state finals
As a DuSable standout, Charlie Brown was part of the first All-Black basketball team to make it to state finals, and he created the Windy City Basketball League to give older men a place to hoop. They would have also been the first all-black male team to win a state title if it wasn’t for the calls from the referees.
“It was, by all accounts, the most controversial championship game in the history of Illinois High School Basketball,” said Sun-times author Taylor Bell.
With someone being so talented enough for the ref to tamper with the game, you know Brown would be destined to go the big leagues, which he did. Due to an unwritten quota about Black basketball plays in the 1950s, he decided to opt-out of the draft and go semi-pro in Windy City.
In addition to that, he also became a social employee for the West Side YWCA group. There he dedicated himself to bringing comradery to rival gangs thru the game of basketball as a harmless tool to settle their disputes.
As time passed his love for basketball still stayed with him, despite his age. This love for basketball and thirst to play it even after 40-plus years enthralled him to create the Windy City Basketball League. The league was for any other basketball fans older than 50 who still believed that age was still just a number.
Many of his teammates say Charlie’s personality about the game and his sportsmanship has brought a plethora of basketball fanatics together, especially those who met him during the League and more.
“He had no ego. Life was grand for him,” Bill Frey, who met Brown during the beginning stages of the Windy City Basketball League, talked about how he is still in awe of his attitude on life. “Charlie Brown was a thoughtful, easygoing guy.”
Pat Craddock, another teammate of Charlie Brown, thanked him for pushing him to his limit to work for his victory. “We were so tired we couldn’t walk over to where the trophies were… I never thought I’d get that tired”
“Basketball has given me family and a holistic approach to this world,” said Brown himself. “There might be some guys who don’t get along. But we have those guys in the striped shirts and rules and they apply to everyone”
Tom Ward, another one of the players in the windy city league, said that Brown had the talent to bring people together no matter their aspect of life. This ability to bring people together formed friendships that spanned for years to come.
Written By Daylontie Jasper
Edited by Sheena Robertson
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Feature Image Courtesy of malegna’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Aberdeen Proving Ground‘s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License