Prince high school basketball photo: Charlie Murphy’s Chappelle’s Show story was right, and so is Touré’s.

The Legend Is True: Prince Was a Basketball Star (and He Had an Epic Afro)

The Legend Is True: Prince Was a Basketball Star (and He Had an Epic Afro)

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Slate's Culture Blog
March 4 2015 1:35 PM

The Legend Is True: Prince Was a Basketball Star


While low-res versions of Prince’s middle school basketball photo have been quietly circulating on fan message boards for a while now, the shot is finally going full-blown viral. The catalyst? Journalist Libor Jany, from Prince’s home paper the Minneapolis Star Tribune, has dug up a zoomed-in version of the pic from the paper’s archives. Finally, we can see middle-school Prince in all his glory.

Even better, the article that accompanied the photo confirms that the afroed Prince was as good as the rumors have suggested:


Though the most famous story of Prince’s basketball skills is undoubtedly Charlie Murphy’s, as immortalized in the classic Chappelle’s Show sketch (not to mention Prince’s own “Breakfast Can Wait” cover art), it’s not the only chapter in the Legend of Prince, Basketball Star.

My other favorite Prince basketball story is probably Touré’s. In the best part of his (pretty good) book about the icon, Touré tells his own true story of being invited to play basketball with Prince. Once the Purple One had set aside the high heels he was rumored to ball in, and put on his sneakers, he was pretty good:

He moved like a player and played like one of those darting little guys you have to keep your eye on every second. Blink and he’s somewhere you wouldn’t expect. Lose control of your dribble for a heartbeat and he’s relieved you of the ball. He jitterbugged around the court like a sleek little lightning bug, so fast he’d leave a defender stranded and looking stupid if he weren’t careful.

But the best part comes when Touré tries to pull something fancy:

I flicked a quick, no-look pass his way. The ball zipped past both defenders but then I realized he didn’t know it was coming. I started to yell out to him, the man I had known, sort of, for over fifteen years. I called out, “Prince!” But this was during the Symbol period, when his name was unpronounceable and you weren’t supposed to call him Prince. Titanic faux pas! Would he storm out and banish me from Paisley Park? I had this thought process as the word “Prince” was coming out of my mouth so really what I said was, “Pri . . . !” like the first syllable, then caught myself and slapped my hands over my dirty mouth as if to keep that sound and any other from getting out. The ball sailed past him and out of bounds. He jogged off to retrieve it and as he walked back he had a badass smirk on his face. I looked at him, like, “What?” I had no idea what would happen next. Then the man laughed as he said, “He didn’t know what to call me.”

You can read the story in full over at the blog for Soundcheck. How did the game end? Prince hit the game-winning jumper, and then, without even saying bye, he disappeared.