Katrina Survivors Are Globetrotters
With unmatched talent, antics, and professionalism, the Harlem Globetrotters have
for 82 years (-whew! -) played over 22,500 basketball games (only losing about 345)
in 118 countries, on six continents, and before more than 125 million fans. Founded
in 1926 by Abe Saperstein, the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game on Jan. 7,
1927, in Hinckley, Ill.
Two players representing New Orleans are 26 year-old center Nate "Big Easy" Lofton
and 30 year-old forward Eugene "Wildkat" Edgerson.
Edgerson is the only player in University of Arizona history to appear in two Final
Fours (1997 & 2001). He helped the school capture the 1997 NCAA Championship,
made the Pac-10 All-Academic team during his collegiate career, and was
called "Mr. Hustle".
At 6' 7" Wildkat Edgerson, the team's gentle giant, entered his fifth season with the Globetrotters in 2008, and is a
favorite among both his teammates and fans with his retro style, work ethic, personality and energy.
His mother, Suzan, raised Wildkat and his three siblings as a single parent. “I appreciate the sacrifices she made; she is
who I get my work ethic from.” That work ethic propelled Wildkat to obtain a degree in Elementary Education and a
master’s in Teaching and Teacher Education at Arizona. When he attended a Globetrotter tryout camp, Wildkat didn’t
know what to expect, but he went into it with an open mind. “When I arrived, I found that being a good basketball
player was the first requirement, and the ball handling and routines would come with time.”
Wildkat played basketball, baseball and football growing up in New Orleans, but he excelled at basketball, and went on to
become the Times-Picayune Player of the Year and a state champion at St. Augustine High School. His high school
coach, Bernard Griffith, encouraged his players to separate themselves from the pack, which inspired him to come up
with an “old-school” look of kneepads, high socks and an afro.
After hurricane Katrina, Edgerson's family fled from the 7th ward to Houston, where they, like so many others who had
lost everything they had, struggled to regroup and find housing.
Big Easy Lofton was a two-time All-Southland Conference selection at Southeastern Louisiana who, as a senior, led the
team in blocks, steals, rebounds and assists.
Most of Big Easy's family lived in the uptown projects, and when the levees gave way, everyone was looking to the 6' 9''
Big Easy and his father to pull everyone together. With his father at the wheel, Big Easy and two of his friends pushed
the group in a pickup truck from the middle of the projects to near St. John the Baptist Church. From there, the group
was able to make it out of the city and evacuate to Houston.
From there, Lofton worked out at a Harlem Globetrotters benefit for Katrina victims in Houston and made the team.
Since Katrina, he has returned to the city, along with teammate and fellow New Orleans native Edgerson, to aid former
NBA star Kenny Smith’s annual hurricane Katrina relief effort: “We Have Not Forgotten.” Big Easy said he would
someday like to build and run a gym in his old neighborhood.
source: Harlem Globetrotters press release
"Showtime," "Wildkat" & "Special K"
photo courtesy Harlem Globetrotters
"It's about more than just a hurricane"