Amy Johnson Crow “no story too small” suggested that we write about Football or baseball players in the family. Or about an ancestor who was a good sport about things.
Week 47 – Sporting Levi “Yogi” Bough – Basketball Player (1922-2008)
Bough Broke Color Barrier at St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights.” Those words headlined the on-line Sports “Tablet” Magazine. What excitement came over me when I saw that the article was detailing my uncles’ College basketball career in honor of Black History Month February 2015. Clearly, the desire to toot the horn, and forward the article to all my contacts was at my fingertips; instead, I held back a little. Then a reality check hit me that although you may not get your flowers while you are breathing, the people left behind can celebrate and benefit from your good works.
The article describes how Levi Bough “’paved the way for countless St. Francis Student-Athletes to achieve their dreams”. The article goes on to call attention to the fact that he was the “first Black Player in the 52 year history of St Francis College. “ I hope you will take the time and read the online piece. http://thetablet.org
Below is the post I published back in 2012 about my Uncle Levi born on St. Croix, raised in New York and buried in Switzerland.
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”