UCLA honors basketball pioneer Don Barksdale
UCLA honored the late Don Barksdale's legacy Thursday in Westwood, retiring his number 11 jersey in an inspiring halftime ceremony en route to the Bruins' 59-57 victory over Washington. He was, after all, an inspiration to many. "Don Barksdale was one of those guys that changed the world," said former UCLA great and college basketball analyst Bill Walton, who was on the call Thursday night. After being cut from his high school team because he was black and then serving in World War II, Barksdale found his way to UCLA, where he starred for the Bruins from 1946-47 under head coach Wilbur Johns and eventually became the first ever African-American to earn All-American honors. The next year, despite racial tensions, he was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team at the 1948 summer games in London, becoming the first African-American to ever win gold. He signed with the NBA's Baltimore Bullets in 1951 after the NBA began to integrate. Two years later, he became the first African-American to play in an NBA All-Star game. He passed away from cancer in 1993. ESPN's Dave Pasch and Bill Walton reflected on his life during the Washington-UCLA telecast.
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