We’ll begin with the Alphas – Lenny Wilkins after college traded his Greek clothing in for his high tops and basketball uniform in the NBA. After his career as a player, he traded his uniform for a suit and a tie and became a Hall-of-Fame NBA coach. In 1996 Wilkens was the coach of the US Olympic team. Another. Our next Alpha sports star was very familiar with being first at things – especially races. We are talking about the great Jesse Owens. Jesse went from wearing his black and gold Greek gear on the campus of Ohio State to winning the gold representing the United States in the 1936 Olympics. He actually won 4 gold medals in the Berlin Games in ’36.
The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha are proud of their very own Chryste Gaines who was a member of the winning 4x100 team that brought home the gold in 1996. Gaines also won a bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Four years later in the 2004 Olympic games Tonique Williams-Darling (another AKA) won gold for the Bahamas in the 400 meters. Williams, pictured here with her gold medal, stomped the yard in her pink and green Greek apparel while at the University of South Carolina before becoming a professional sprinter.
Two of the most dominant big men ever to play in the NBA both pledged Kappa Alpha Psi. Of course we are talking about Bill Russell and the late great Wilt Chamberlain. The two stars faced each other many times throughout their amazing careers. There are many other big name Nupes we could talk about such as Arthur Ashe, Kenny Lofton and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. One member of our staff was actually a huge Hardaway fan throughout his career. He even wears his “Air Pennies” that match his Greek gear every now and then.
Possibly the best young quarterback in the NFL is also a Nupe. Check out the 49ers star QB Colin Kaepernick (top) on the cover of GQ showing off his Spring 10 tattoo. The Superbowl runner up can be seen here throwing up the Yo and wearing a less permanent Greek accessory, a dog tag. One thing is for sure, as long as Colin stays healthy he's bound to get back to the Superbowl in the near future. Kaepernick can be seen all over the internet posing with his LB's and their canes wearing their Greek gear. He can also be seen doing his signature pose "Kaepernicking" with first lady, Michelle Obama.
The brothers of Omega Psi Phi don’t just take their Greek apparel seriously, they are serious about their sports. Some big-time Omega Athletes include Vince Carter, David Justice, Ray Lewis, Alonzo Mourning, Steve McNair, John Salley, track star Terrence Trammell, Chris Webber and the two-sport star at Florida State, Charlie Ward who went on play for the Knicks for many years.
We hope you didn’t think we were finished with the Ques. We simply couldn’t move on without talking about the big dawgs. Shaquille O’Neal is no stranger to the purple and gold. Not only are those the colors of his Greek apparel, they are the colors of his alma mater and the colors he wore while winning multiple championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Where would we be if we didn’t shout out Michael Jordan? “Air” Jordan has been making headlines since the early 80s during his days at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Just last week, a charter member of the Chapel Hill chapter of Omega Psi Phi stopped by our retail Greek clothing store, Zeus’ Closet. During a conversation with him, we found out that the Hall of Famer didn’t actually pledge at Chapel Hill. While the charter member was purchasing his Greek jacket from us, he explained that, “Dean Smith was not having that.” Simple and plain, he continued by saying, “Mike and his mom respectfully went into coach Smith’s office and expressed that he wanted to pledge. He didn’t just do it without permission.” Check out this rare picture of MJ with his LBs with his Omega hat on.
Eventually Michael Jordan went on to accomplish this goal of becoming an Omega among many other goals and records that he shattered. Now, because of his accomplishments, his Air Jordan brand will live forever. Click here to order some custom Greek gear to match your Air Jordans. Tune in next week as we continue this topic on famous Greek Athletes.