Monday, July 08, 2013

TOP STORY >> Harlem Globetrotter inspires kids at JPD

Leader staff writer

Legendary Harlem Globetrotter Hubert (Geese) Ausbie showed he still has a few of his smooth basketball skills as a guest speaker at the Jacksonville Police Department’s Junior Citizens Police Academy graduation day on June 28.

Ausbie, 75, of Little Rock was the “Clown Prince” for the Globetrotters for 25 years until retiring in 1985. He then coached the team for another 15 years.

Ausbie was born in Crescent, Okla. He came to Arkansas after high school to attend Philander Smith College in Little Rock from 1956 to 1960. He earned a degree in physical education. In college, Ausbie was named All-American in basketball and during in his senior year he was the third-highest scorer in the country.

Ausbie turned down offers to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs and professional basketball.

In 1961, Ausbie attended the Globetrotters training camp in Chicago. He was chosen from more than 500 players around the nation to be on the Globetrotters team.

As a youngster, Ausbie’s nickname was “Goose” but the Globetrotters already had a player named Goose, so Ausbie’s name changed to “Geese.”

Ausbie played in more than 10,000 games in 100 countries.

“We played for the Pope. We played for the Queen. I played for Nelson Mandela for his birthday in ’98 and played for President Bill Clinton. I’ve met Bill Cosby and Michael Jordan,” he said.

A Harlem Globetrotter game is more than scoring points; it’s about entertainment.

One of Ausbie’s favorite comic routines during a game was to go into the stands. He would get a woman’s purse and return to the floor. He would then go into her purse and get all her stuff out. Then he would dance with her.

“Sometimes you get surprises in a purse. One time in New York the lady said Geese, you’ll be sorry. I was sorry. She had a .45 (handgun). I took it back to her,” he said.

Ausbie said the players have thrown real water on people. They did not mind it when they found out they were going to be paid for their troubles.

“I enjoyed my life, and, if I had to, I’d do it all over again. Everywhere we went we were well protected by the officers. Anytime we called at night we knew they would be there,” Ausbie said.

He said police officers get paid less than professional athletes who make millions of dollars and waste it. The officers put their life on the line every day, not knowing if they are coming home or not.

“Officers are good people. Every night I go to bed I hear that siren blown and it makes you wonder if an officer or a young kid has been shot. I just pray everybody makes it home safe,” Ausbie said.

“There is a show that comes on TV. I love cowboy movies and the show is Hopalong Cassidy. At the end of the show he always tells the kids, thank your parents, be sure to go to Sunday school in church and mind your police officer,” Ausbie said.

“They get mad if you call a police a cop. Hopalong Cassidy said to call a police officer ‘mister officer,’” Ausbie said.

“Everywhere in the world I go they give me a badge. An officer gave me a badge in Alabama one night and he said, ‘Geese, this badge is good in Alabama, but it ain’t worth 10 cents in Mississippi, so don’t try to use ’em,” Ausbie said.

Ausbie and his wife, Awilda, have been married for 55 years. They have four adult children — three daughters and a son — and two grandchildren.

“She gives me a hard time sometimes. She sells MaryKay and I’ve have to deliver for her because she has a little car. I drive a car for free. She puts gas in the car,” Ausbie said.

Ausbie had each of the JPD junior police academy students read words to live by printed on a Harlem Globetrotter basketball: cooperation, honesty, effort, enthusiasm, respect and responsibility.

He told the youngsters to mind their parents because they are great people.

“Don’t call me Hubert. When you call me Hubert, I know I am in trouble,” Ausbie said of his folks.

He said at school he sometimes got in trouble. The principal would whoop him and, when he got home, his mother would be sitting in the swing. She would tell him to go in the house. That is when Ausbie knew he did something wrong.

“She whooped me. Wooo, Lordy, have mercy,” he said.

“I can prove it too, take a look at the scars,” Ausbie said as he pointed toward his backside.

“But she was good to us and we were a praying family, and that was the main thing,” he said.

He told the youth, “Stay in school. You’re going to have a lot of trouble out there on the road. You’re going to see people with drugs. Just turn it down. Don’t do drugs.”

Ausbie ended by saying, “The best day of your life is today because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not promised to you.”

It was the second year for JPD to hold its Junior Citizens Police Academy. The free five-day program was limited to 14 youngsters from 13 to 17 years old interested in law enforcement.

They learned about community-orientated policing, criminal investigations, patrol duties, the use of force, less lethal weapons and firearms. They also learned about the K9 unit duties, the special response team and narcotics investigations.