#21 Jerry Lucas

So here is one you probably haven’t heard, and never expected to hear about.

Jerry Lucas.

Here are the highlights of his amazing basketball career at Ohio State:

He was a nationally awarded high school player (offered over 150 scholarships), national college star at Ohio State, and 1960 gold medal Olympian and international player before later starring as a professional player in the NBA.   As a collegian, Lucas led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the 1960 college national championship and three straight NCAA Finals.   He remains today the only three-time Big Ten Player of the Year, and was also twice named NCAA Player of the Year.  As a professional, Lucas was named All NBA Team three times, an NBA All-Star seven times, was 1964 NBA Rookie of the Year, and was named Most Valuable Player of the NBA All-star game among other honors and awards. He was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jerry Lucas easily was at the top of the list of basketball stars in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

But the reason that SSOMG highlights Jerry here is for what he did off the court.

Jerry picked up a nickname along the way, Dr. Memory.

I remember watching the Johnny Carson show one night, sometime in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s.  Johnny had invited Lucas on the show to show off his amazing gift.  Much like Rain Man, Jerry demonstrated how he had memorized the first 50 pages of the Manhattan New York phone book.  Carson turned to page 39 and then he scrolled down to the 28th name on the page.  Reading the name to Jerry Lucas, Lucas recited back the phone number of Name #28.   Carson continued giving Lucas names from other pages in the phone book, and Lucas was able to recite the phone numbers.

A trick?  An Illusion?  Did they cheat?

No, Jerry Lucas had the gift.  Plus by practicing other methods of memory retention, he had taught himself how to memorize and retain enormous amounts of information.

Jerry Lucas has gone on to write many books about the brain and memory.

Lucas is now 80 years old.  I don’t think he quite got the credit for his basketball skills, and I am certain he never got quite the notoriety for his brain skills.  It is doubtful we will ever see such a combination in one athlete again.  SSOMG is still amazed by Jerry Lucas.

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