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Oscar Robertson

Defying The Odds

Growing up in Indianapolis, where his family moved when Robertson was four years old, Robertson learned the game of basketball at a run-down neighborhood court known as the "dust bowl." Robertson's father worked for the city sanitation department and his mother worked as a maid. Their salaries were small and they could not afford a basketball for their son, so he threw tin cans and old tennis balls through the hoop at the dust bowl. When he was eleven his mother gave him a basketball that one of her employers had planned to throw away, and his career began in earnest.

Robertson joined the basketball team at Crispus Attucks High School and found he still had to improvise—the all-African American school had no gym. His self-taught skills and ability to adapt, coupled with sound lessons in the basics from coach Ray Crowe, set Robertson up as a team leader early on. In his junior and senior years, he led the team through a 45-game winning streak and two state championships, making Crispus Attucks the first African American high school to capture that honor. In 1956 Robertson was named Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" and he was recruited by more than thirty colleges.


1938 Born November 24 in Charlotte, Tennessee
1942 Family moves to Indianapolis
1952 Enters Crispus Attucks High School and joins basketball team
1955-56 Leads Crispus Attucks Tigers to 45-game winning streak and two Indiana state championships
1956 Named Indiana's Mr. Basketball
1956 Enters University of Cincinnati as recruit for the Bearcats
1959-60 Leads team to NCAA Final Four
1960 Co-captains U.S. Olympic basketball team and wins gold medal
1960 Signs with Cincinnati Royals
1960 Marries Yvonne Crittenden on June 25
1961 Named NBA's Rookie of the Year
1961-62 Averages triple-double for entire season
1964 Named league MVP
1964 Becomes president of NBA players' union
1970 Traded to Milwaukee Bucks
1971 With Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), leads Bucks to NBA championship
1974 Leads Bucks to NBA Finals
1974 Retires amidst pressure from team management
1976 Settles union lawsuit with league, resulting in "Oscar Robertson Rule" regarding free agency
1979 Named to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1997 Again makes national headlines after donating kidney to daughter Tia

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Famous Sports StarsBasketballOscar Robertson Biography - Defying The Odds, Chronology, On To Cincinnati, Olympic And Nba Star, Moves To Milwaukee - SELECTED WRITINGS BY ROBERTSON: