Globetrotter legend wows Piggott crowd
The Piggott Community Center came to life Sunday evening as a large crowd gathered to enjoy a special visit from minister and Harlem Globetrotter basketball legend Meadowlark Lemon.
Lemon, known as "The Clown Prince of Basketball" for his quick wit and outgoing personality coupled with his amazing skill on the court, was just as captivating on the center's stage, capturing the attention of generations of fans with his inspirational messages.
At the core of his ministry, Lemon's smile and love of life come through like a sun shining bright.
"No matter what you're going through, get some joy in your life," Lemon told the audience. Lemon continued, noting that joy differs from happiness in that "joy is a spirit," while happiness is fleeting and "fickle." He encouraged everyone to accept God into their hearts in order to experience true joy.
Throughout his message, Lemon shared stories of his past both as a basketball legend and man. He shared insights into his path to ministry, as well as the accounts of others.
"God has been using me over the years to minister to the world," Lemon said.
As a basketball player, Lemon journeyed around the world with the aptly named Globetrotters. He displayed his amazing skills on the court for kings and queens, presidents and fans of all ages. Known for his amazing half-court and beyond hook shot and no-look-wraparound passes, as well as his playful banter with teammates, opponents and young fans from the audience, Lemon has transferred this magnetism into an in-demand ministry.
Even at the age of 80, Lemon still can handle a basketball like few others. During his interaction with the crowd, Lemon brought up a young fan who had the rare opportunity to play catch with the Basketball Hall of Famer. A series of passes bounced from Lemon's elbow, foot, head and backside, delighting the legion of fans present. Afterwards, Lemon autographed the signature red white and blue basketball for the youngster, adding further to a lasting memory which won't soon be forgotten.
Lemon shared the story of his friend, pro football standout Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier, who was a hard-hitting defensive tackle in the 1950s and 1960s known for being a member of the Los Angeles Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line. According to Lemon, Grier's son urged the football giant to take him to church. This act helped Grier repair his broken family and reunite with his ex-wife, or as Lemon called it, "fall back in love." Grier went on to become an ordained minister and is active in numerous community events.
Lemon encouraged those in attendance to open up their lives to love for one another and love for the Lord.
"If you don't have love inside you, then you don't have anything," Lemon said.
Lemon was welcomed to Piggott by Mayor Gerald Morris. Members of the Piggott High School Jazz Band played the Globetrotters' signature music, "Sweet Georgia Brown" as the legend approached the podium. Lemon requested a few more bars of the song, singing with the familiar tune.
Lemon was joined in his trip to Piggott by Ronnie "The Preaching Machine" Raven. Raven led the event with a fiery sermon, receiving a strong response from the crowd.
Reach Out Christ's Kingdom (ROCK) Ministries pastor Chris Shelton also introduced special guests Fox News religion and faith correspondent and New York Times best-selling author Acton Bowen and members of the Touched By the Master quartet who also were in attendance.
Shelton met Lemon while the two authors were sharing their books and messages of faith and caring. The foreword for Shelton's book, "It's Okay, You're With My Father (A Child Abuse Investigator's Call to the Church)" was written by evangelist and author Frank Shelton, who also endorsed Lemon's book, "Trust Your Next Shot." A connection was formed between the two through their shared devotion.
When Lemon later contacted Shelton about visiting ROCK Ministries, Shelton felt the charismatic legend would be a wonderful visitor to share with everyone, prompting Shelton to contact other area ministers and set up the event at the community center.
"I've been blessed to get the chance to meet him," Shelton said of Lemon. "He's not asking for anything in return. He just felt like visiting."
Shelton said Lemon had mentioned the possibility of returning to the area with his Meadowlark Lemon Harlem All-Stars basketball team, a notion which further excited the crowd.
As the evening wound down, Lemon took time to meet with fans of all ages, autographing basketballs and pausing for photos with new and lifelong followers.
"It's such a blessing to have someone like Meadowlark come here," Shelton said. "I think it's something that the community enjoyed, and I think Meadowlark enjoyed it, too. We're so grateful for this opportunity."