Junius Kellogg ’53 was the first African-American basketball player to play for the College.
When it comes to Manhattan College athletics, the question is often asked, what is a Jasper? Sixty years ago, a freshman center basketball player proved a Jasper is a student-athlete with integrity, dignity and grace. Junius Kellogg ’53 was the first African-American basketball player to play for the College. When asked to fix a game against DePaul University by a Manhattan alumnus who had previously co-captained the team, Kellogg went to his coach rather than accepting the $1,000 bribe.
The star center broke open one of the most storied gambling rings in college history on January 17, 1951. By the time it was over, seven national teams were implicated with 32 players accused of shaving points. They had fixed 86 games from 1947-1950.
Kellogg went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters until an accident while traveling injured him and caused paralysis from the waist down. He did not let it stop him and became one of the leaders of wheelchair basketball, both as a player and a coach. He is still the winningest coach in the history of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
“Junius and I became lifetime friends,” says Robert Otten ’53, classmate, friend and, later, guardian. “I am a lifetime admirer of this man. He saved college sports in the New York metropolitan area.”