Basketball Hall of Famer, Athlete, Entertainer, Motivator, Author

Meadowlark Lemon Bio

Meadowlark Lemon, Basketball Hall of Famer and the renowned “Clown Prince of Basketball”, is a legendary hero in the world of sports… the man with the most recognizable face and name in sports history! His name and patented hook shot are ingrained in the memories and hearts of generations who recognize him as the most popular member of the most beloved sports team in history – The Harlem Globetrotters.

Meadowlark Lemon helped change the face of American history, Black history, and Sports history!  Meadowlark has played basketball before Kings, Queens, Presidents, Popes, and for millions of fans all over the World!  Meadowlark has performed his on-court artistry in more than 100 countries around the Globe!   As an international star with the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark was also known as an “Ambassador of Good will in Short Pants.”  In 1997, at Ebony Magazine’s 50th anniversary, Meadowlark was honored with the Sports Legends Award.

Meadowlark Lemon is a household name after playing in more than 16,000 career games for the Globetrotters that began in 1954 and lasted until 1979.  In 1993, Meadowlark went back with the Harlem Globetrotters for a 50 game “comeback” season.  Meadowlark was voted as one of America’s most recognizable faces following Alan Alda, John Wayne and Bob Hope.

Meadowlark says, “ …An NBA player would need to play 160 games per year for 100 years to achieve my record of over 16,000 career games… as a Globetrotter we played over 350 games per year….”

… World Famous Superstar of the Harlem Globetrotters for over 26 seasons, affectionately known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” ….helped change the face of American History, Black History, and Sports History!

For more than five decades, the irreplaceable “Clown Prince of Basketball” has thrilled millions of fans with his basketball skills and slapstick comedy. A gifted athlete and hilarious comedian, he is as renowned for his famous confetti-in-the-water-bucket routine as he is for hitting hook shots from half court.  Meadowlark is an outspoken champion role model who continues to supercharge audiences worldwide with his high energy, warmth, humor and inspiring message of finishing strong and how to live a life of JOY!

As a legendary member of the Harlem Globetrotters, Meadowlark witnessed firsthand the changing tides of acceptance and virtue among the nations of the world. On the road, while performing before various diplomats, world leaders, celebrities, popes and many fans he learned that JOY is not the absence of adversity.  Meadowlark realized that JOY is the victorious way through adversity.

Meadowlark’s “no-look, wrap-around pass” for an easy slam-dunk and his wit is unsurpassed. In his nationally syndicated column, Los Angeles Times Sports Writer, Jim Murray, described Meadowlark Lemon as “an American Institution whose uniform should hang alongside the Spirit of St. Louis and the Gemini Space Capsule in the halls of the Smithsonian Institute.” … “He did more for basketball than 10 seasons of the Boston Celtics.”

Even today, fans relay stories of their memories of times they witnessed his performance. On television or in the arena, you knew you were watching a gifted athlete who loved his game and the many fans who were watching him.  Meadowlark’s athletic skills are matched only by his charisma.

Meadowlark enjoyed the games and cherished the memories as much as the fans!

Meadowlark’s rise to fame embodies the American dream. Can anyone top the storybook climb from the poverty of a small town right into the uniform of an international basketball team? A native of Wilmington, North Carolina, he practiced hoops as a child at the local playground. Meadowlark readily admits poverty or not, life was not boring.

Early Life

Meadowlark’s given name is Meadow Lemon III.  Meadowlark’s dad, known as “Peanut”, was Meadow Lemon, Jr. and his grandfather was the first Meadow Lemon — none of them were given a middle name. In the late 1950’s, he legally changed his name to “Meadowlark”, although many of his friends and family still call him Meadow. He is the one and only Meadowlark Lemon! The name has always suited him! Meadowlark says, “The birds named meadowlark are known for their sweet and happy songs.  I always tried to put a song in the hearts of my fans.” Meadowlark is now an international “brand” name and he’s one of only a few who are known around the world by their first name.

On the television game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” the host has asked contestants on several occasions: Who is the Clown Prince of Basketball? Meadowlark was the correct answer that no one ever missed!

In 1982, Meadowlark topped the “Q” poll as the most popular athlete. That’s a poll that measures the name recognition and popularity of celebrities, politicians, brand names, and products.

It was at the local cinema house that Meadowlark and his friends spent weekends transfixed while the big screen brought their hopes and dreams to life. At age 11, a newsreel about the Harlem Globetrotters captured Meadowlark’s heart and sent him running home to tell his father of his new found life’s desire to join the team.

Meadowlark was determined then and there that he was someday going to be on that team – the Harlem Globetrotters.  He firmly believes that God planted this dream in his heart and then gave him the relentless desire, determination, energy and the talent to pursue his dream. He had no money for a basketball, so he rigged up a makeshift, backyard hoop with an onion sack and coat hanger, and used an empty carnation milk can for his first two-point shot. That humble beginning was to be the start of a sports legacy that would span the universe.

By the time Meadowlark reached high school, the competition was fierce. His grueling practice schedule often kept him on the courts for eight to twelve hours a day. He knew that all great things come with a price and becoming a Globetrotter would take endurance and sacrifice as he focused on perfecting his game. Clean living constituted his health and stamina. Meadowlark abstained from alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.

Shortly before high school graduation, the Globetrotters contacted the promising athlete from Wilmington, North Carolina. Uncle Sam first insisted on two years in the armed forces. Meadowlark kept in touch with the Globetrotters and formally joined the team as soon as he was a civilian again.

He traveled by car, bus, train or plane every night, including tours through the racially torn South of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Meadowlark’s family life was limited at times, since he averaged more than 350 games a year; however, the King of the Court kept smiling. Meadowlark traveled more than 5 million miles and played in more than 16,000 lifetime career basketball games. His love of the game transcended all barriers and brought smiles to generations of fans in over 100 countries from Austria to Zimbabwe.  In 1979, after 26 seasons as a world famous Harlem Globetrotter, Meadowlark left the team to fulfill another dream, his own comedic basketball team, Meadowlark Lemon’s Bucketeers (1980-83), the Shooting Stars (1984-1987), and today, Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™ (1988 – Present).

Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars

Meadowlark Lemon's Harlem All Stars

In 1988, Meadowlark formed his own comedic basketball team, the Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™.  This comedy basketball team features the legendary Basketball Hall of Famer himself, along with other talented basketball professionals.  The team continues to entertain thousands of children and fans throughout the country.  The mission of Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™ is to provide a wholesome entertainment alternative for families in the United States and abroad. A parallel mission for Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™ is to use its collective influence to help America’s youth form healthy attitudes about themselves and others.

Whenever possible, Meadowlark schedules appearances in various elementary and secondary schools and colleges to speak to students and let them know that their lives are of great value and they are alive for a purpose and that they can make a positive contribution to their families and communities.  More importantly, Meadowlark lets the youth know they are not alone, they are uniquely created as “one of a kind” – no one else can fulfill their destiny and purpose.  Meadowlark brings a message of Hope and Encouragement in the face of their constant challenges.  Meadowlark says, “Kids may be a small part of our society; however, they are 100 percent of our Future! We are changing lives to change the World!”

You can book Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™ for a personal appearance, charity fundraiser, collaborative celebrity event or corporate event. Contact us today for more information.

Basketball Hall of Fame – Class of 2003

Meadowlark was inducted into the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2003 and received the NBA Lifetime Achievement – John Bunn Award for Lifetime Achievement in the year 2000, which is considered the highest honor given by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame outside of induction.  Meadowlark was also enshrined as part of the Harlem Globetrotters Team in 2002 and the Team’s John Bunn Award in 1999.  Considering that basketball has been around for more than 100 years, it’s astonishing there are less than 315 Hall of Famers and only 40 John Bunn Award recipients as of 2012.   Since 1959, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has inducted only 313 coaches, players, referees, contributors and teams. All of the basketball legends who have been Enshrined are celebrated for their outstanding achievements and accomplishments. As the highest honor in Professional Basketball, entrance into the Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding contributions to the sport.

Also, in 1975, Meadowlark was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.  In 1997, Meadowlark received Ebony Magazine’s Sports Legend Award and was introduced by Bill Cosby.  In 2000, Meadowlark was the recipient of the International Clown Hall of Fame Lifetime of Laughter Award.  In 2001, Meadowlark received a Victor Award from the Academy of American Sports Awards who honor professional athletes who have contributed to the most outstanding achievements in sports. Also, in 2001, Meadowlark received his Globetrotters “Legends” Ring as part of the Harlem Globetrotters 75th anniversary celebration.  In 2006, Meadowlark was honored with a star on the Celebrate Wilmington, North Carolina Walk of Fame.  The walk recognizes Wilmingtonians who have attained national and international fame in their field.

Television, Films and Endorsements

A member of both the Basketball Hall of Fame and the International Clown Hall of Fame, Meadowlark’s athletic skills were matched only by his charisma.  His ability to work a crowd eventually opened up many opportunities in Hollywood, where he currently is working on the development of a feature film about his amazing life story…

A highly recognizable celebrity both on and off the court, Meadowlark appeared in the feature films, “Modern Romance”, “Crash Island”  and “The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.” He starred with McLean Stevenson in the television series “Hello Larry” for 2 seasons that aired on NBC. Meadowlark was also a returning guest star on the TV series “Diff’rent Strokes”, “Here’s Boomer” and “Alice”.

Other television appearances include “The Ed Sullivan Show”, Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show”, David Letterman’s “The Late Show”, “The Today Show”, “Good Morning America”, The “Merv Griffen Show”,  “Hollywood Squares”, mystery guest on “What’s My Line”, “The Mike Douglas Variety Show”,  Fox News Networks “Fox and Friends” and “Hannity” ,“The Barbara Mandrel Show”, “The Goldie Hawn Special”, numerous appearances with Bill Cosby, TV special “Celebrate the Dream: 50 Years of Ebony Magazine” on ABC,  “The Kroft Super Show”, “Kids Against Crime” TV series, “Meadowlark Presents the World”, The Harlem Globetrotter’s cartoon, “The Popcorn Machine”, and who can forget “Scooby Doo”? He was considered the star of the Globetrotters show broadcast on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, not to mention four of his own NBC Sports Specials. To Meadowlark’s credit, four of his Wide World of Sports shows are still rated as the most highly broadcast in the series’ history.

Additionally, Meadowlark has done many commercials for companies such as Footlocker, Burger King, Pepsi Cola, Dr. Pepper, Band-Aid, Safeway Food Stores, Boeing Aircraft, Revlon, Quencher Gum, the U.S. Postal Service and the Yellow Pages, Amoco, Delta, Ford Motor Credit, Gillette, Hydromatics, Pentair, Salvation Army, Boys and Girls Clubs, Sears, Teen Challenge, Tropicana and many more…  He was also featured alongside Dick “Mr. Whipple” Wilson in Charmin’s famous “Please Don’t Squeeze The Charmin” Ads and has endorsed Nike shoes and Rawlings basketballs

Recording Artist

Meadowlark stepped into the recording studio for RCA and Casablanca Records and recorded an album titled, “My Kids”. When he recorded “My Kids”, Meadowlark said, “It was something I always wanted to do.”

Meadowlark is the father of ten children, five girls, and five boys.  He says, “Just about everything I’ve ever wanted to tell a kid is laid out on that record. The message is one of universal love”.

Meadowlark also released a CD titled “Welcome To My World” on the Crossroads Music label that includes the famous “Sweet Georgia Brown,” the theme song of The Harlem Globetrotters.

Ordained Minister

Whether it is making people laugh or offering inspiration, giving has always been a part of Meadowlark’s life. In 1986 he became an ordained minister and in 1998, he received his Doctorate of Divinity from Vision International University. For many years, he hosted “The Meadowlark Lemon Show” televised nationally and internationally through the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).

Meadowlark interviewed professional athletes and entertainers, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.  The show archives can still be seen on . In competition with the other major networks, “The Meadowlark Lemon Show” has won four Angel Awards.

Meadowlark also serves as Guest Chaplin for various NBA and NFL teams and for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.

Motivational and Inspirational Keynote Speaker

For more than 30 years Meadowlark has served as a motivational and inspirational keynote speaker.  He truly touches hearts! He weaves theory and story, personal experience and humor, wit and love that both educate and inspire audiences of all ages. He reveals in clear, pointed language what has enabled him to transform a rare combination of athletic prowess and side-splitting humor into a joyful formula for success that’s sure to help everyone in business, in personal relationships and in the demands of everyday life.  He encourages everyone to move forward, always believing they are in the right place at the right time doing the right thing…  He teaches how to Trust Your Next Shot and live a life of JOY!

Meadowlark passes along points on such topics as: how to achieve your dreams, why attitude matters more than talent, how to have a 100% positive mental attitude all the time, tips to maximize motivation, teamwork, consistency and excellence, how to dream big dreams while accomplishing realistic achievable daily goals (the key balance between long-range plans and short term goals), why the most meaningless statistic in life is the half-time score.

He uses the acronym “S-H-O-T” to teach a guide for life… Spirit, Health, Opportunity and Teamwork combine to fuel our passions, satisfy our heart’s desires, create opportunities for doing good, and help others realize their dreams.

He instructs us never to commit “intentional fouls” in life by deliberately or knowingly hurting others. He encourages us to finish strong.

I have seen basketball players score 40 points a game and their team still lose.  If that same player will score 20 points and learn to pass the ball and be part of a team, that team wins games!” – Meadowlark Lemon

Camp Meadowlark

Meadowlark, the ageless “hoop-master”, strives to reach today’s young people through Camp Meadowlark, a co-ed sports camp that began in 1989. Camp Meadowlark is a specially created basketball camp designed to improve young people’s basketball skills while also teaching them the importance of education and staying healthy. It is a complete program to teach the important skills and fundamentals of basketball.  Meadowlark emphasizes four attributes of basketball: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual. Physical conditioning is a key factor in the longevity of Meadowlark’s career, and the difference between an average player and one of the legends of the game.

Camp Meadowlark teaches young athletes about applying the mental or psychological parts of the game to everyday life to handle pressure, to set goals, and to strengthen moral character. Socially, we need to be able to interact with players and individuals from all other walks of life, regardless of gender, race, color or creed. These young people are shown that spiritually everyone should give God the glory for all of our talents and gifts. Meadowlark is personally dedicated to every camper giving them one-on-one attention. It’s a unique and fun-filled learning experience with a focus on becoming a total player. Each camper is taught to learn the skills, when to use them, how to practice, then put them to use. These are the fundamentals upon which Meadowlark built a career.

As a special feature, these young athletes get passing, dribbling, and basketball handling skills. Each camper completes the camp feeling good about their achievements.  Meadowlark understands that when young people feel good about themselves they will also treat others with more respect.

With the increase of bullying behavior within our society, Meadowlark makes sure to stress that it’s “cool” to be kind and considerate to others. Meadowlark’s message is simple: If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

Meadowlark says,

Realize that hurting other people doesn’t make you important, it just makes you mean.  Think about ways you can be a leader without hurting others, like getting involved in sports, school groups and community activities. Remember that bullying isn’t just hitting someone or beating them up.  Spreading gossip, calling someone mean names or leaving someone out of your game are other forms of bullying, too. Follow the “Golden Rule” to treat others the way you want to be treated.

Personal Life

Meadowlark Lemon shown with his wife, Dr. Cynthia Lemon, Founders of Meadowlark Ministries and Meadowlark Lemon’s Harlem All Stars™

Meadowlark has 10 children, five girls and five boys, in order by age they are: Richard, George, Beverly, Donna, Robin, Jonathan, Jamison, Angela, Crystal and his youngest, Caleb Lark Lemon.

He is married to Dr. Cynthia Lemon, Doctor of Naturopathy, and they currently reside in Scottsdale, Arizona.  In 1994 they founded Meadowlark Lemon Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing lives, to change the world.”