Basketball legend Meadowlark Lemon dead at the age of 83

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NATIONAL – He was known as the "clown prince" of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Meadowlark Lemon, a skilled athlete and basketball court jester who delighted audiences for some 25 years around the world as one of the team's star attractions, has died.

According to the Globetrotters management team, Lemon died in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday, December 27. 

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Meadowlark Lemon III attended the screening of a movie at the age of 11. Before the film, a newsreel ran about the Harlem Globetrotters. In numerous interviews over the years, Lemon told reporters had never heard of the team and was unfamiliar with the game of basketball until the day he saw that newsreel.

He was so entranced by the idea that black men could be role models and entertain huge crowds of every race and religion during a time of segregation, he immediately knew he wanted to be a part of something that big. 

The team's website said Lemon played in 7,500 consecutive games, which is the equivalent of more than 92 NBA seasons.  

The undisputed master of the long-range hook shot, rubber-band ball and other tricks entertained crowds in some 100 countries. During the years, he wore the Globetrotters' star-spangled red, white and blue uniform he performed his tricks for such dignitaries as Britain's Queen Elizabeth, Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev and three popes.

Meadowlark Lemon was 83 years old.

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