If statues honoring the former DuSable Superior School’s most revered alumni ended up erected in front of 4900 S. Wabash Ave., “Sweet” Charlie Brown would be standing in bronze along with Nat King Cole, Mayor Harold Washington and Sweetwater Clifton, the initially Black player to sign a agreement to enjoy in the NBA.
Like Clifton, Brown was a basketball player. But he was that and a entire ton additional.
Brown was a star on the DuSable team that lost to Mount Vernon in the 1954 point out title recreation remembered as the “most controversial” recreation in Illinois Substantial University Association event record, the stellar sidekick of celebrity Elgin Baylor on the Seattle College crew that completed next in the 1958 NCAA Tournament, an esteemed superior university referee, and co-founder and guiding gentle of the Windy City Senior Basketball League.
“If it all finished tomorrow I will have savored far more than any NBA All-Star ever did,” Brown wrote in a 2008 letter to Bill Frey, one of the multitude of near mates he manufactured by the Windy Metropolis Senior League and its summer time national match, the Windy Metropolis Shootout.
Brown died Friday, Aug. 26, at St. Francis Healthcare facility in Evanston, wherever he was taken immediately after a slide two days earlier at Peterson Park Overall health Care Center. Just after living on the South Aspect for virtually all of his grownup life, he was taken to the centre on the North Side in late July mainly because of severe respiratory troubles and other health troubles. He was 86.
Born in Canton, Mississippi, on Feb. 24, 1936, Brown came to Chicago in advance of he started elementary faculty at Betsy Ross on the South Facet.
He created his first overall look in the general public eye through his junior calendar year at DuSable, when he was a person of the greatest gamers on mentor Art Scher’s crew that arrived at the initial round of the 1953 state event before losing to eventual state winner Lyons and finishing with a 27-3 file.
The pursuing year Scher remaining to mentor Sullivan. Jim Brown changed Scher at DuSable, inheriting a forged of standouts that also bundled Paxton Lumpkin, Shellie McMillon, Karl Dennis and McKinley Cowson and midyear graduates Curley Johnson and Bobby Jackson.
“We felt that we had been on the verge of some thing wonderful,” Brown told the Chicago Solar-Instances in 2004. “The young ones took satisfaction in the reality that they were Black and had a Black coach. A new period commenced in the metropolis with Black little ones beginning to dominate the match.”
Indicative of that dominance was DuSable’s normal-season showdown with Roosevelt, a further Chicago powerhouse, which had an all-white group. Brown scored 34 details to direct DuSable to a double-time beyond regulation victory that resolved the Chicago General public League championships and would have extended-expression ramifications.
Looking for to become the to start with CPL and very first all-Black workforce to earn the state championship, unbeaten DuSable routed Bowen, Quincy and Edwardsville in the tournament to established the stage for the title match against Mount Vernon.
Not only that, “DuSable would have been the 1st all-Black team in the United States to gain a significant faculty condition basketball championship,” in accordance to Bruce Firchau, chairman of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and Museum.
DuSable led by 4 points with four minutes to play in advance of Mount Vernon rallied to win 76-70.
Phone calls by referees were being a issue. 3 baskets by Brown on long shots were waived off since of traveling calls, and Lumpkin was identified as for charging on two events soon after building photographs. In the final a few minutes, Brown, Lumpkin and Dennis fouled out.
In accordance to longtime Sun-Times prep author Taylor Bell, “It was, by most accounts, the most controversial championship recreation in the history of the Illinois large college basketball match.”
“I keep no bitterness,” Brown later reflected. “I acquired far more from that just one reduction than all the wins. It taught me how to offer with realities in our culture and discover how to settle for them. I realized how to deal with what daily life is all about.”
Brown went on to engage in school basketball on the freshman workforce at Indiana — NCAA regulations at the time prevented freshmen from actively playing varsity — and he spent the initially fifty percent of his sophomore year as a important contributor for the varsity squad ahead of leaving.
Brown was recruited by Seattle coach John Castellani and, following sitting down out a time in compliance with NCAA transfer rules, performed a sturdy supporting function to Baylor when the crew advanced to the 1958 national championship match prior to getting rid of to Kentucky.
In the West Area championship match against California, Brown scored the basket that despatched the contest into overtime. With 10 seconds remaining in time beyond regulation, he scored the basket that sealed the 66-62 victory.
When Baylor left for the NBA the subsequent period, Brown turned the prime player on a group that concluded with a 23-6 file. He was chosen to various All-The us groups.
Brown was selected by the Cincinnati Royals as the 74th all round decide in the 1959 NBA draft throughout an era in which most of the league’s eight teams experienced unwritten quotas on the quantity of Black players on their rosters.
But Brown chose not to consider to participate in in the NBA. He returned to Chicago right after serving in the U.S. Army and played semipro basketball. He also worked as a social worker for the YMCA on the West Aspect, where he was fully commited to bringing jointly customers of rival gangs to resolve their dissimilarities.
In 1975, he started a second basketball career as a referee, officiating two superior university championship online games: King’s 79-71 victory in excess of Rockford Guilford in 1993, and in 1994 when Peoria Guide edged Carbondale 61-60. He also worked several metropolis championship contests.
Brown took wonderful pride in his work.
“I wasn’t heading to permit what transpired to me transpire to these younger adult men,” he as soon as mirrored, searching again on the controversial 1954 reduction to Mount Vernon. “They explained the officers cheated (DuSable) but I would under no circumstances use that term. I say: ‘They made some problems.’”
An additional significant chapter in Brown’s everyday living commenced in the 1980s when he was contacted by lawyer Mickey Rotman, a previous Roosevelt player who went on to grow to be president of the Chicago General public Significant Faculty Alumni Association. Rotman proposed he and the other customers of the Roosevelt crew that missing to DuSable in 1954 keep a reunion video game to raise revenue for each colleges.
Brown welcomed the concept. A supper get together at the East Lender Club preceded the game and the former rivals bonded. The reunion recreation led to phrase-of-mouth pickup video games and then to the players’ participation in national tournaments for gamers over age 50.
“We can do this regionally,” Brown advised his skeptical fellow gamers.
The initial Windy Town Shootout was held in the summer months of 1991 and in the winter season of 1995 the Windy Senior Basketball League was born. (The league was revived in 2022 soon after a two-calendar year hiatus due to the fact of COVID-19.)
Brown played in the league — headquartered at Washington Park with satellite venues mainly on the South Facet — for almost 20 several years and right until the pandemic served as its de facto commissioner.
Between the previous NBA players who have performed in the league are Ricky Green, Flynn Robinson, Mickey Johnson, Harvey Catchings and Sonny Parker. Also on the VIP record are several notables from other walks of lifestyle these types of as Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and previous Prepare dinner County State’s Lawyer Richard Devine.
“We have experienced our lives enriched by the ordeals we have experienced and it is all owing to Charlie,” the late Barry Holt, just one of the league’s founding fathers, wrote in a Windy Town Shootout method piece. “Charlie touched our lives in methods we would not think had been feasible.”
Looking back again a handful of years back, Brown reminisced: “We begun with a crew of guys and now we have a substantial family members. I have gotten far more out of basketball after 50 than I maybe could have imagined.
“I was in the middle of the social change our state was going by means of in 1954. I know what the variation is before, during and right after that. I am making the most of the residuals. You don’t have to be an Uncle Tom, you really do not have to be a Malcom X, you really do not have to be a Martin Luther King. Just be yourself and locate the most effective technique for the condition you’re in.
“We’re all one relatives. Everybody has to glimpse at it that way.”
Visitation will be Thursday from midday to 7 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. at Travis Funeral Dwelling in Riverdale, adopted by funeral services at 11 a.m. at Shekinah Chapel in Riverdale.
Brown is survived by his daughter, Rosalind, granddaughters Ryann and Grace, and grandsons Rawlin and Justin. Preceding him in loss of life have been his brothers Reginald, Leroy and Herb. He was divorced but he and his former spouse, Shirley, remained near mates right until her demise.
Neil Milbert is a freelance reporter who protected sports activities for the Chicago Tribune for 46 many years.