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RIP Meadowlark Lemon: Basketball Star and Minister

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 12/28/15

A happy hoopster is gone: 

Meadowlark Lemon, who became known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” during a run of more than two decades as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, died Sunday. He was 83. Lemon’s death was first reported by The New York Times, who cited his wife, Cynthia. A North Carolina native born Meadow Lemon III, Lemon recalled making his first basketball hoop out of an onion sack and a coat hanger and using an empty can of Carnation milk to sink his first two-point shot, according to Lemon’s website. He played college basketball at Florida A&M and was drafted into the Army for two years before he applied to join the Globetrotters in 1954. Lemon said he had seen the Globetrotters playing on newsreels, passing the ball to the tones of the distinctive “Sweet Georgia Brown,” and was struck by the all-black squad. Black players were still a novelty on the court, the NBA having only integrated in 1950. “When they got to the basketball court, they seemed to make that ball talk,” Lemon said during his Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech in 2003. “I said, ‘That’s mine. This is for me.’ I was a receiving a vision. I was receiving a dream in my heart.” The determined Lemon began playing for the team in 1955. Lemon changed his first name to the distinctive “Meadowlark” in the 1950s because, he later said, “The birds named meadowlark are known for their sweet and happy songs. I always tried to put a song in the hearts of my fans.” …As his basketball career wound down, Lemon became an ordained Christian minister, creating his own self-named evangelistic organization in 1994. In addition to Cynthia, Lemon is survived by his ten children. “I want you to always remember that life’s most meaningless statistic is the half time score,” Lemon said on his website, “and as far as I’m concerned it’s always half-time.”

Read more. 

His website has more about his ministry:

In 1994 Meadowlark and his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, founded Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing lives, to change the world.” In 1986, Meadowlark became an ordained minister, and in 1998, he received a Doctorate of Divinity from Vision International University.  In 1994, Dr. Cynthia Lemon became an ordained minister and they work together as a team with a heart for people and a mission for the world; a team with a message of hope, joy, grace and unmerited favor. Meadowlark’s life as a basketball celebrity and as one of the world’s most recognizable athletes and entertainers has given him access to millions who might not otherwise hear the “good news” of a loving God who knows them by name and loves them.  Meadowlark’s humorous, dynamic and engaging style of communication makes him a highly sought-after conference speaker, keynote speaker and evangelist. Meadowlark Lemon Ministries along with Camp Meadowlark  and Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™  uses both conventional and unconventional methods to reach out to young and old alike. Through the means of writing books, preaching, evangelical outreaches, music, basketball, television media and technology, Meadowlark Lemon Ministries presents a life-changing message that brings hope, joy and inspiration to millions — encouraging all to stay focused and “finish strong” in every endeavor. Meadowlark says:
One significant difference between life and any other game or race is that in life we only compete against ourselves. Even though others may be involved, each person’s life is judged by no greater criteria than how they did when measured against their own individual potential. Decide right now that you are going to begin a new chapter in your life. Why wait until January 1 to make your resolution? Make your declaration today and finish this day strong, this week strong, this month strong, and this year strong. The common denominator for all mankind is that we all get 24 hours in a day, just like everyone else. What you do with that time is up to you. Choose well…

God bless him.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

Photo: Harlem Globetrotters / Twitter

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