Have you ever heard of Earl Manigault? Probably not. Have you ever heard of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? I'm guessing you have. But have you heard Kareem call Manigault the "greatest basketball player he had ever played against?" That's most likely a no. His nickname? The Goat. Why? A teacher misread his name calling him Earl Mani-goat and the name stuck.
Earl practiced constantly. He attached weights to his ankles to work on his vertical. His mentor was the famous Holcombe Rucker. Has anyone played the NBA Street Homecourt video game? If you have then you've most surely performed the Double Dunk. The Goat could do that. He was able to jump up and grab coins and dollar bills off the top of the backboard. It was gravity-defying. But what was so amazing about all of this? He was 6 foot, 2 inches. That's it. Rumor has it that he had a 52-inch vertical leap!
So he could dunk, but that's not all. He was a deadly shooter from deep. He practiced hundreds of shots a day, every single day. His work ethic was amazing. He played with and against the best players of his time including Kareem, Earl the Pearl Monroe, Connie Hawkins, and many, many more. The Goat once set a record by scoring 57 points in a JUNIOR HIGH GAME!
By now you're probably wondering why he didn't make it in the NBA, right? Drugs. Grades. The wrong crowd. His life took a downhill plummet. He was kicked out of school for smoking marijuana. He went to North Carolina to finish high school. He received 75 scholarships for college. He chose Johnson Smith U. He left after a short time due to grades and arguments with the coach for playing time! He went back to NYC and became addicted to heroin. He was in jail for a little bit and came out of it as a new man. He started a tournament in The City that Never Sleeps to keep kids away from drugs. He has his own court now just like his mentor, Mr. Rucker.
People still push for him to be inducted into the prestigous Basketball Hall of Fame despite his poor decision making in his life. Earl Manigault died in 1998. It was nine years this past May since his death. And that, to all of you reading this, is the story of one of the best basketball players ever, Mr. Earl the Goat Manigault who never played for a professional team but his legend still lives on.