Meadowlark Lemon Dies At 83 & The Harlem Globetrotters' "Clown Prince" Will Be Missed

With a 22-year career of performing with the Harlem Globetrotters as their "Clown Prince" behind him, Meadowlark Lemon has died at the age of 83 in his Arizona home, The New York Times reported on Monday. Upon exiting the army, Lemon joined the Globetrotters in 1954 and remained a part of the exhibition basketball team until 1978. He didn't retire as a member until 2001. After just a few years, Lemon became the team's ringleader and played in over 16,000 games. After his long career with the Globetrotters, the Wilmington, North Carolina, native founded Meadowlark Lemon Ministries and settled in Arizona to fulfill his calling to become a minister. His wife was the first to share the sad news of his death, but in his 83 years of life, Meadowlark lived a life of success and adventure.

Alongside his teammates, Lemon travelled to over 100 countries and performed for millions of people worldwide. Lemon even brought a signed basketball to the White House in 1974 as a gift for First Lady Betty Ford. When Lemon first joined the Globetrotters, the team was playing competitively against local and college-level teams. They achieved a 2,495-game winning streak, all while employing their comedic antics which included, among other acts, dumping buckets of confetti on the referees. In 2003, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, according to The New York Times. Fellow Globetrotter Wilt Chamberlain described Lemon in a statement made in a 1999 interview.

Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I've ever seen. People would say it would be Dr. J or even Jordan. For me, it would be Meadowlark Lemon.