Ex-Harlem Globetrotter honored posthumously with New Orleans Hall of Fame induction 

Billy Ray Hobley, known as ”Supertrotter,” displayed his skills and personality with the team for 22 seasons.

A former Harlem Globetrotter who was also one of the top collegiate basketball players in the Big Easy is one of six people selected for this year’s induction into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. 

Billy Ray Hobley was 48 when he died of a heart attack in 2002. His achievements as a standout athlete will be honored posthumously during the induction ceremony on July 30. According to NOLA.com, the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee is announcing this year’s honorees over the month, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for top male and female amateur athletes in Louisiana on July 25 and 26. 

Hobley began his athletic career as a star on the court at James A. Shanks High School in Quincy, Florida, outside Tallahassee. He chose to attend Dillard University in New Orleans, where in over 99 games with the Bleu Devils, he averaged nearly 15 points per game.

The Harlem Globetrotters are honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 1982. The Globetrotters became the first athletic team to be honored with a star on the sidewalk. Posing from left to right are, Billy Hobley, Dallas Thornton, Hubert “Geese” Ausbie, Nate Branch, Fred “Curly” Neal, Robert Paige and Gator Rivers. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)

But Hobley, who was 6-foot-8, stood out on the court for more than just scoring points. He was a force to behold with what NOLA describes as “spectacular slam dunks and dribbling wizardry,” and was also known for his outgoing personality. His showmanship caught the attention of the Harlem Globetrotters, who recruited him after he graduated from Dillard with a degree in health and physical education. 

“When (the Globetrotters) recruit a player, he’s got to be more than just a basketball player,” Hobley said in a 1997 interview, per NOLA. “He’s got to be an outstanding basketball player. Plus, you’ve got to have a pleasing, audience personality. If you’re a happy guy, enjoy people, and can get along with people, that’s a Globetrotter.”

He toured with the legendary basketball troupe for 22 seasons earning the nickname “Supertrotter.” 

“Billy Ray could light up any room in the world, and he always had a story to tell you,” said Globetrotters legend Louis “Sweet Lou” Dunbar, per NOLA, who also came to the Trotters as a rookie in 1977 and was a teammate of Hobley’s for more than 20 years. “The nickname ‘Supertrotter’ fit him perfectly.”

In 1982, when the Globetrotters became the first athletic team to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hobley and other members of the legendary troupe posed for a photo on that historic day.

As a Globetrotter, Hobley traveled to more than 120 countries and played 250 shows per year. At a ceremony with Nelson Mandela, in Pretoria, South Africa, Mandela was made an honorary Globetrotter.

“We went to South Africa not only to be part of basketball development but also cultural development,” Hobley said, per NOLA. “We went over there to bring hope and inspiration to not only the children but also the adults. … You know what President Mandela told me when I met him? As a president he shook all of our hands and I told him, ‘What you’re doing is so magnificent. God bless you.’ He told me, ‘What you guys do for the world, I can never measure up to.’ Now, that’s a compliment, isn’t it?”

Hobley regularly hosted an annual sports academy, featuring basketball clinics, and gave mentoring speeches in his adopted hometown of New Orleans. He even became a head coach at his alma mater in 2000 – for one season. He left the university in 2001 to spend more time with his family and founded a charity organization called the Billy Ray Hobley ASK Foundation, which focused on programs for children.

He was honored posthumously by the Globetrotters in 2011 with the “Legends” distinction. Dillard University also honored him after his passing by retiring his number and establishing a scholarship fund in his name. Student recipients are honored at the university’s annual Billy Ray Hobley scholarship gala. 

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