HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – It’s been said that “heroes get remembered, but legends never die,” and in Huntington, the legacy Hal Greer has left is one that will never be forgotten.
“Football has Randy Moss, basketball has Hal Greer,” said Marshall Men’s Basketball Coach Dan D’Antoni as he spoke about how Greer represents Huntington.
Greer was a 10-time NBA All-Star who played basketball at Marshall University from 1955 until 1958.
“He played a good game, an exciting game,” said D’Antoni, who actually got to watch Greer play in college and in the NBA. “[He] had a good mid-range jumper.”
Greer, a Huntington native, was the first African-American athlete to receive a scholarship from Marshall University, which paved the way for black athletes after him.
“When I first moved to Huntington, I didn’t realize he came from Huntington and went to Marshal,” said Huntington Mayor Steve Williams. “He’s the living example that you can get there from here.”
Greer passed way in 2018. However, during a rivalry game against Western Kentucky in January of 2019, Marshall University announced it will commemorate Greer with a statue outside of the Cam Henderson Center. The City of Huntington honored Greer with his own day in 1966, and with a street bearing his name in 1978.
“[Do] you want a street name for yourself? Go out and be the best in the world, and you can start right here [in Huntington],” said Williams.
“One of the greatest basketball players in the history of the game grew up and played right here in Huntington,” said Williams. “Of course, we should have a statue for him.”
The artist working on the project is Frederick Hightower, also a Huntington native. The prototype for the statue is about a foot tall, but the statue itself will be 7 feet 5 inches in size and will depict Greer in his number 16 Marshall basketball jersey, shooting his famous jump shot.
“To me, to have a statue in front of a place, you have to be more than just a player,” D’Antoni said. “You have to be the type of man that will represent Marshall, and I think [Greer] represents that. He’s what we look for when we recruit.”
Mayor Williams believes Greer’s legacy continues to inspire minorities and says the statue, “tells people that from right here, on this little dot next to the Ohio River, you can change the world.”
Greer’s statue will bring to life the realization that people in the Appalachian area can leave their mark in history, and get to cut the net when they reach their life goals. Marshall University officials say they are looking to unveil the commemorative statue in October of 2020. Construction on the footers for the statue’s base will begin in the Spring of 2020.
“It’s history,” D’Antoni said. “He was a great player [and] a great man.”