An Appreciation RSS

An Appreciation, Detroit Lions, NFL, Penn State Nittany Lions, Wayne Tripplett -

The more I watch the antics of Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, the more I appreciate the life and times of Wallace Triplett, the former Penn State and Detroit Lions running back who died last week at 92. The distance between Brown, whose off-field missteps have kept him in the headlines, and Triplett, who inspired a moral […]

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An Appreciation, Black Women, Feminism, Poetry, Theater -

Every time I hear the chorus to the Mary Mary gospel song “The God in Me,” I can’t help but think of Ntozake Shange. Shange, who died in her sleep Oct. 27 at 70, wrote in her 1975 seminal work: through my tears i found god in myself & i loved her i loved her […]

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An Appreciation, Commentary, Jimi Hendrix, Microsoft, Paul Allen, Rest In Peace -

In his 2011 memoir Idea Man, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen recalled a phrase his mother coined to describe risk-takers. “That person is an edge walker,” Allen’s mom would say. Given this familial admiration for adventure seekers, it’s not surprising that Allen seemed attracted to some of the flashier products of black pop culture, namely thrill-chasing […]

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An Appreciation, George Taliaferro, NFL, Rest In Peace -

George Taliaferro was sitting in a Windy City restaurant eating with some of the nation’s top football players when he found out his favorite team, the Chicago Bears, had selected him in the 13th round of the 1949 NFL draft. The next move by Taliaferro, who died on Monday night at the age of 91, […]

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An Appreciation, Mac Miller, Rest In Peace -

When I get old I’m a be real cool Sittin’ on the porch with a fresh pair of shoes Whole bunch of stories for the neighborhood kids Tell ’em to believe, they be makin’ it big And I know That life is nothing easy (nothing easy) One day, I’m a change the world And they’ll […]

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An Appreciation, Aretha Franklin, Detroit, Music, Rest In Peace -

DETROIT — Respectfully, the work that Aretha Franklin has done — those foundations that her friends, contemporaries, family members and heads of states marveled about during her nearly 11-hour viewing and funeral service — isn’t enough. Not now. And not moving forward. On Friday, in her hometown of Detroit, thousands of parishioners, many of them […]

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An Appreciation, Aretha Franklin, Music, Rest In Peace -

I lit a couple of candles, grabbed a bottle of wine and poured myself a modest glass of cabernet. Aretha Franklin was in hospice care, and I decided to start celebrating her life with “Dr. Feelgood” from her first live album, Aretha in Paris, recorded in 1968. Aretha hits a note at the 3:39 mark […]

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An Appreciation, Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant, NBA, Prince, Shaun Livingston, Stephen Curry, Steve Kerr -

OAKLAND, California — Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Rihanna. Floyd Mayweather Jr. Rapper E-40. Neymar. Dave Chappelle. Russell Wilson and Ciara. Snoop Dogg. These are a few of the celebrities who have sat courtside to watch the Golden State Warriors. But of all the stars who have graced the seats at Oracle Arena, none distracted the Warriors […]

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An Appreciation, Les Payne, NABJ -

My friend Les Payne is dead. During his 38-year journalism career, Les had many close encounters with death. He once escaped the Mediterranean island of Corsica just minutes ahead of the thugs whom a drug dealer sent to his hotel to “turn out his lights.” On another occasion, Les found himself staring down the barrels […]

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An Appreciation, Clarence Beavers, Rest In Peace, The Triple Nickles, World War II -

Clarence Hylan Beavers, the last surviving member of a pioneering “test platoon” during World War II who helped end segregation in the military, died Dec. 4 at 96 at his home in Huntington, New York. Beavers, who originally enlisted at 17 in the New York National Guard’s famous Harlem Hellfighters after working a series of […]

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An Appreciation, Basketball, Perry Wallace, Rest In Peace, SEC, Vanderbilt Commodores -

A memorial service will be held Monday at Vanderbilt University for Perry Wallace, the first African-American basketball player in the Southeastern Conference. Wallace, who died in December at age 69, played at Vanderbilt from 1966-70 and graduated with an engineering degree. He went on to earn a law degree from Columbia University and became an […]

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An Appreciation -

The life of Simeon Booker was celebrated Monday at Washington National Cathedral, a beautiful memorial service for an extraordinary journalist. Mr. Booker — and I feel compelled to call him mister — was a capital pioneer, admired by everyone who knew that he played a role in helping to better this nation. In 1952, he […]

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An Appreciation, Black History, Boxing, Joe Frazier, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Parkinson's Disease, Thrilla in Manila, Vietnam War -

From Michelle Obama, Dwyane Wade and Betty White to Steve Harvey, Jan. 17 offers an embarrassment of riches for celebrity birthday followers. One name in particular, however, towers above the others: Muhammad Ali. The self-proclaimed and globally anointed “Greatest” would have been 76 today. To say Muhammad Ali is an inspiration for Team Undefeated is […]

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An Appreciation, Boston Celtics, Cedric Maxwell, Jo Jo White, NBA, Paul Pierce, Rest In Peace -

Cedric Maxwell got word that his old Boston Celtics teammate Jo Jo White died on Tuesday just before Maxwell was about to go on radio to give his usual analysis of the Celtics game. Sadness engulfed Maxwell during the broadcast. Not able to say much more, Maxwell left the TD Garden in Boston in the […]

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An Appreciation, Don Baylor, MLB, Rest In Peace -

Don Baylor would walk through his O’Henry Junior High School and Austin High School hallways and hear the taunts and racial slurs that came with being one of the first three African-Americans to integrate the Austin, Texas, schools. When students didn’t feel like it was enough to hurl racial epithets at Baylor, fights would break […]

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An Appreciation, Rest In Peace, SportsCenter, Stuart Scott -

“See,” my Uncle John said in the summer of 1998. He pointed toward the television in his Washington, D.C., apartment. “That’s gonna be you one day.” A fluorescent light from his fish tank dimly lit the apartment. My uncle and I were up watching Stuart Scott on SportsCenter. Scott talked about sports the way we […]

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An Appreciation, HBO, Lafayette Reynolds, Nelsan Ellis, Rest In Peace, Television, True Blood -

Hooker, you left way too soon. I imagine that’s what True Blood’s Lafayette Reynolds would say about the untimely death of Nelsan Ellis, the actor who created him. Ellis, a 2004 Juilliard graduate, died of heart failure at age 39, his manager said Saturday. On True Blood, which aired on HBO from 2008 to 2014, […]

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An Appreciation, Basketball, Bill Clinton, Greg Marius, Harlem, Hip-Hop, Rest In Peace, Rucker Summer League -

Something felt different as I came up the stairs from the 155th Street subway station in Harlem that Monday in 2001. Beneath the midafternoon July sun, the line outside Holcombe Rucker Park stretched down the block behind blue police sawhorse barriers. The crowd was mostly teens and grown men, dipped in standard summer street attire: […]

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An Appreciation, Charlie Murphy, Comedy, Rest In Peace -

Charlie Murphy, the straight, no-chaser funnyman who died Wednesday afternoon at the age of 57 after a private battle with leukemia, pulled off the seemingly impossible. Indeed, the older brother of Eddie Murphy, a once-in-a-generation comedian and record-breaking film star, would not have been blamed if he rode the red leather tails of his sibling’s […]

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An Appreciation, Bryan Burwell, Journalism -

It took perspective to see the Detroit Pistons the way Bryan Burwell did in the late 1980s. The Bad Boys hip-checked the small of Larry Bird’s back, clotheslined Michael Jordan’s esophagus and tormented NBA commissioner David Stern with their bullying style of play. The world hated the Pistons and the Pistons hated the world. The […]

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An Appreciation, Don Motley, Negro League -

In baseball circles, people said farewell Tuesday to Don Motley, one of the founding fathers of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Most folk who knew Don called him “Mr. Motley,” but I never did — not because of any arrogance or disrespect, he just felt like Don to me. I remember […]

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An Appreciation, Gwen Ifill, Rest In Peace -

The right question — thoughtful, relevant, bold — can catch even the most prepared politician off guard. It seems a generation ago, but it was just 12 years. Barack Obama was an Illinois senator who had given a memorable speech at the summer’s Democratic National Convention. John Kerry was running against the incumbent President George […]

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An Appreciation, Howard University, Keith Aqui, Lincoln Phillips, NCAA -

There comes a reminder — a sad reminder, alas — from the 1970s. The death of Keith Aqui brings memories flooding back of college soccer and the exploits of Howard University. Aqui, who died far too young at 71, was on the Howard team that in 1971 won the NCAA Division I title. A tremendous […]

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An Appreciation, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Rest In Peace, Rod Temperton -

In 1980, just as Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall was beginning to stick to radio airwaves like so much sonic honey, attentive radio listeners noted a curious similarity between Jackson’s seductive single and Heatwave’s 1977 disco hit, Boogie Nights. The similarity wasn’t imagined. That’s because both Off the Wall and Boogie Nights were composed by […]

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