Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred "Curly" Neal died at the age of 77 last week, and the entire basketball world was in mourning. Celebrities also paid tribute to Neal, including Emilio Rivera, who stars on the FX show Mayans M.C. When Rivera heard the news of Neal's passing, he went to Instagram to pay tribute to an icon.
"Rest In Peace Mr. Curly Neal," Rivera wrote. "I have a lot of great memories watching him and Meadowlark Lemon My two favorites have fun on that court." Rivera was one of the most recognizable Globetrotters, and when Rivera post his message and photos, fans responded in the comments section. One fan wrote: "Getting to see the Harlem Globetrotters is a great childhood memory."
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"Wow. Went on my 1st date with my now husband and saw the Globetrotters," another fan wrote. "RIP."
"For real brother!" another Instagram user added. "Those two made a lot of people smile."
Neal was a member of the Globetrotters from 1963-1985. He played in over 6,000 games, and he was known for his big personality. In 2008, Neal talked about how he got involved with the Globetrotters.
"I was 21 years old when I joined the Globetrotters," Neal said to bullz-eye.com. "I had five offers, you know: the New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, St. Louis Hawks, Baltimore Bullets and the Globetrotters. Abe Saperstein sent me a nice letter – red, white and blue stationary – and offered me to come to Chicago, Illinois, at Depaw University, and try out amongst 125 guys for his basketball team. They chose five players, and I happened to be in that lucky five."
"We have lost one of the most genuine human beings the world has ever known," said Globetrotters general manager Jeff Munn said per CNN. "His basketball skill was unrivaled by most, and his warm heart and huge smile brought joy to families worldwide. He always made time for his many fans and inspired millions."
Neal's No. 22 was retired in 2008 and became the fifth player to receive the honor. Wilt Chamberlain, Marques Haynes, Meadowlark Lemon and Goose Tatum were the others.
Rivera, 59, stars at Marcus Alverez on Mayans M.C. He has appeared in various television shows and films the last 25 years including Sons of Anarchy, The X Files, Spider-Man 3, and Venom.