Neal (left), shown here with fellow Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, has died at age 77.
"His basketball skills were unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile made families around the world happy", Jeff Munn, general manager of the Globetrotters, said in a statement Thursday.
Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, said it was "hard to express how much joy Curly Neal brought to my life growing up". "He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions". He turned into one of 5 Globetrotters to have his jacket retired when hisNo 22 was raised to the rafters throughout an unique event at Madison Square Garden in 2008. Since then, there have been a total of eight numbers retired. He passed away in Houston, Texas decades after spending 22 seasons with the Globetrotters.
Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group.
Neal bet the Globetrotters from 1963-85, showing up in greater than 6,000 video games in 97 nations for the exhibit group understood for its mix of amusing as well as athleticism.
The Greensboro, N.C., native starred at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte before joining the barnstorming entertainers.
His nickname "Curly" was an ironic reference to his shaved head.
Curly was also featured in several of the Globetrotters" TV specials. including "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" and "The Harlem Globetrotters Popcorn Special".as well as "Scooby-Doo'.
Basketball fans started posting tributes to the Harlem Globetrotters legend after news of his death broke on Thursday.
As of this report, services for Neal are pending, per the Globetrotters website.