Central grad Antjuan Ball’s worldwide basketball legacy

Published 10:38 am Friday, October 6, 2023

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Growing up in a small Alabama town, Antjuan Ball had no idea just how far his passion for the game of basketball would take him.

After graduating from Central High School in 2011, Ball played for the Shelton State Bucs basketball team for two years before transferring to play for the West Texas A&M Buffaloes for the duration of his college career. 

With the desire to play professionally, Ball began to look for opportunities to fulfill his dreams, landing a spot on the highly renowned Harlem GlobeTrotters after his graduation from West Texas.

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“I wanted to continue basketball after college but I didn’t know where,” Ball said. “It turned out that my college roommate’s brother knew someone who had connections with the GlobeTrotters. I got invited to a training camp in 2015 and I tried out and made the team.”

Ball traveled the world with the GlobeTrotters for seven years, playing in all 50 states and several different countries around the world including Australia, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Brazil, Singapore, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and more before stepping down in 2023.

The Lowndes County native credited his basketball career to his high school basketball coach, the late Tito Baker, who encouraged Ball to begin playing and helped develop his athletic abilities.

“When I was in 8th grade I was a really shy kid and I didn’t like crowds so even though people kept telling me I needed to play, I wouldn’t do it,”  Ball said. “My cousin Alzavin Rush picked me up one day to watch practice at Central. They were one player short and Coach Baker asked me if I would fill in at practice. Coach Baker saw the potential in me during practice and afterwards he took me through a whole workout and put me on the team. Coach Baker and my former principal Peggy Grant said they knew I was going to be special so they stayed on me.”

Ball’s mother, Cheryl Middleton, expressed her excitement and pride as her only child became a worldwide sensation.

“When we found out he was going to play for the Globetrotters I was over the moon,” Middleton said. “He is such a dear person with a big heart and he’s really a big kid himself. He’s always loved basketball and I grew to love it too. He loved traveling the world and I really felt like a celebrity mom.”

The Harlem GlobeTrotters tours over 400 cities in more than 25 countries incorporating theater, athleticism, and comedy into their games. According to Ball, while he enjoyed getting to play all over the world, his favorite part of being a Globetrotter was getting to perform, standing on the rim or doing flips off the rim because this isn’t seen in traditional basketball games.

Ball said that he has a gift for spreading love through the game of basketball which he feels made him a perfect fit for the Globetrotters. 

“You don’t know what kids or families are going through every day,” Ball said. “Being someone’s birthday gift, having a positive impact on the world, and seeing people smile for that hour and fifteen minutes we’re playing basketball is amazing. It was a great experience.”