I met my uncle Levi G. Bough in the 70’s when he visited his birth place of St. Croix Virgin Islands with his family from Switzerland. Although he was no longer the Athlete and his body had aged, you could still see the traces of the athlete he was in his posture and the way he carried himself. You knew instinctively that he was a man who took good care of his body, although he was off the basketball court for decades.
Growing up, we heard all about his Athletic talent from my mother and other distant relatives. They told stories about his skill as a basketball player, who received a scholarship to attend College. Levi also was thrifty and earned money by selling newspapers, and shining shoes. He was known for studying way into the night with a Kerosene Lamp. Later he joined the US Army as a member of the 761st Black Tank Battalion during World War II. After the war, he played basketball in Europe, where he settled with his family.
Yogi, as he was affectionately called, loved to talk and could recall the statistics like it was yesterday. Levi Bough enrolled into St. Francis College in 1946 and continued his basketball career as the first black basketball player with the S.F.C. Terriers. With Yogi as a starter on the team during the years 1947 to 1948, St. Francis College ranked first in the New York City area and 20th in the nation as a defensive unit. They destroyed the mythical Brooklyn title over Brooklyn College and St. Johns University, and were rated 76th in the US by a leading collegiate basketball summary that tabulated 790 Schools.
Levi graduated from St. Francis College with a degree in philosophy and psychology after serving as a basketball trainer and director of sports at the institute, but a government scholarship allowed him to continue his studies in Switzerland. He went on to win 18 championships in basketball altogether. Yogi went on to become a player and coach when he attended the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He took the game of basketball by storm and was deemed by Europeans “the first true American” for his accomplishments on and off the courts. Levi “Yogi” Bough died in Switzerland in 2008.
Levi Bough was featured for his skills and talent on the basketball court, in the St. Croix Avis Newspaper in July 2006 as “A true Crucian emblem”