Pope Francis named honorary member of Harlem Globetrotters

From left, Hi-Lite Bruton, Ant Atkinson, Pope Francis, Big Easy Lofton and Flight Time Lang. (Submitted photo)

From left, Hi-Lite Bruton, Ant Atkinson, Pope Francis, Big Easy Lofton and Flight Time Lang. (Submitted photo)

The Phoenix-based Harlem Globetrotters, who just completed a record-setting tour of North America, named Pope Francis just the ninth Honorary Harlem Globetrotter in team history this week at the Vatican, as the Ambassadors of Goodwill prepare for the team’s landmark 90th anniversary tour, which will tip off in the fall.

The prestigious Honorary Harlem Globetrotter accolade recognizes an individual of extraordinary character and achievement who has made an everlasting mark on the world.

Harlem Globetrotters stars Hi-Lite Bruton, Ant Atkinson, Big Easy Lofton and Flight Time Lang met with the Pope and presented him with a framed number 90 Globetrotters jersey following the Pope’s weekly general audience, before a crowd of over 50,000 in St. Peter’s Square.

“We are very humbled by the opportunity to bestow this honor upon Pope Francis,” said Harlem Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider.

“His tireless work for the well-being of the poor and elderly, his humanitarian efforts and his commitment to bridge gaps between people of various cultures are ways the Harlem Globetrotters also aspire to touch lives around the world.  He embodies the Globetrotters’ efforts to provide service, smiles and sportsmanship globally.”

The meeting marks the eighth time the Globetrotters have had an audience with a Pope, with other visits coming in 1951, 1952, 1959, 1963, 1968, 1986, and in 2000, when Pope John Paul II was named the seventh Honorary Harlem Globetrotter in team history at the Vatican.  Among others receiving this honor are Dr. Henry Kissinger (1976), Bob Hope (1977), and Nelson Mandela (1996).

The Globetrotters will tip off their historic 90th anniversary world tour in the fall, with over 320 games in North America alone.

Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation, the largest family-owned themed entertainment company in the U.S.

Throughout their history, the Original Harlem Globetrotters have showcased their iconic talents in 122 countries and territories on six continents, often breaking down cultural and societal barriers while providing fans with their first-ever basketball experience.

Visit the Globetrotters’ official Web site: www.harlemglobetrotters.com.

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