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Willie’s Story

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“We played against different Boys & Girls Clubs, met new people and most of the time I was the only African American in the mix, but my teammates were always with me.”

Willie Naulls was a young boy when he started attending the San Pedro Boys Club. Years later Willie became the first African-American captain of a major professional sports team.

Former Club Director Nick Trani invited Willie into the San Pedro Boys Club as a member to practice basketball. It wasn’t long before Willie made the team although he was the only African-American player, but Willie remembers that his teammates and Club Director Trani, who Willie looked at as a second father, were always on his side.

Willie went on to an All-American career at UCLA and to become an All-Star for the New York Knicks. After retiring from basketball Willie became a successful businessman and founded Willie Naulls Ministries.

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