Shelby County Indiana
William Leon Garrett
William Leon Garrett (April 4, 1929 – August 7, 1974) was the first African-American basketball player in the Big Ten athletic conference.
Born in Shelbyville, Indiana, he was Indiana Mr. Basketball in 1947, the year he graduated from Shelbyville High School, following Shelbyville's victory in the state tournament that year. At Indiana University, he became the first African-American to play on the school's varsity men's basketball team and also the first African-American to regularly start on a Big Ten team. He was All-American when he graduated in 1951. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the draft, becoming the third black player ever drafted by an NBA team.
Shortly thereafter, Garrett was called into military duty. After two years in the U.S. Army, Garrett returned home to find that he had been cut from the Celtics and began playing with the Harlem Globetrotters. Following his stint with the Globetrotters, he began teaching and coaching basketball at Wood High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, before becoming Head Coach at Crispus Attucks, which had previously won state championship's in 1955 and 1956 with Oscar Robertson as its star player.
He was assistant dean for student services at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at the time of his death from a heart attack, aged 45. He is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
Garrett was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974.
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