The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters are known for their incredible ball handling wizardry, rim-rattling dunks, trick shots, hilarious comedy and unequaled fan interaction, but they also serve as Ambassadors of Goodwill™ with community initiatives such as S.P.I.N.™, C.H.E.E.R.™, SMILE PATROL™ and The ABCs of Bullying Prevention. This year, the Globetrotters have added a very special new initiative with the Harlem Globetrotters Hometown Hero, which honors an active, wounded or retired member of the military that has made their community proud with their service and exemplary character at each stop on the World Tour.
At Thursday’s game at the Frank Erwin Center, the Harlem Globetrotters honored E.C. Smith, a WWII veteran of the U.S. Navy who served as a Seaman First Class. During his time of service, Smith served on an APA (troop ship) and an LCI (Landing Craft). What makes this Hometown Hero especially unique is his past experience with the Harlem Globetrotters.
Rotary Engineers was a company based in Midland, TX and did business with all of the major oil companies. For advertising purposes they established a basketball team made up of players from various backgrounds that played both city and statewide. Smith played with the Rotary Engineers when they were asked to play the Harlem Globetrotters in the Coliseum in Odessa. At this time, Goose Tatum was the “star” and Marques Haynes was the outstanding dribbler with the team. They played for a sold out arena and unfortunately lost, but E.C. recalls “a good time was had by all.”
In 1957, Smith put together his own team of talented basketball players and invited the Globetrotters to come to Big Spring, TX to play. They accepted the offer and arrangements were made to host the event in the Big Spring High School gymnasium. Smith remembers when he and his teammate decided to make an attempt to take the ball away from Marques Haynes, a move that proved to be a mistake. Haynes was on his knees and at one point, rolled completely over and still managed to maintain possession of the ball, gaining a big response from the crowd. Again, Smith’s team lost, but the event was a big success and now a favorite memory of Smith.
Smith now resides Elgin, Texas with his wife Patricia. They have a total of 26 grand and great grandchildren, many of whom live in the Austin area. On behalf of The Harlem Globetrotters and the Frank Erwin Center, we thank Mr. Smith for his great service to our country!
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