They came from near and far to share memories of the “Big Fellow,” the man we called “Slim.” The man we would want in a foxhole with us. The man whose life touched upon each and every one of us.
Celebrating the life of Sherman White, tip-off came Monday at the Community Baptist Church in Englewood, N.J., and came to a close late Tuesday afternoon when the final goodbyes were quietly uttered at the services officiated by the Rev. Olivia Stanard.
In between, verses were read from the Old and New Testaments. James Michael Robinson, pastor of Plainfield’s New Jersey Community Baptist Church, eulogized Slim and touched the souls of everyone in the House of the Lord. It was left to the world-renowned Mrs. Cissy Houston to stir our souls with a lyrical tribute to Slim.
Memories spilled over from Monday. “It was really something,” said Floyd Layne, who played with and against Slim back in the day.
“I never played with or against anyone who wanted to win like Slim,” recalled Chink Gaines, a high school All-American at Brooklyn’s Franklin K. Lane High School. “Slim really helped me a lot,” he recalled about their first encounter. “We were friends from the start. He could do so much on the court. I was a scorer. I didn’t have a great jump shot, but I found ways to score. Slim would lay you out, but I played in the school yards…on concrete!” said Chink. “He was a great influence on my life and my basketball. I was like him, I hated to lose.”
Bill Willoughby, who played at Slim’s high school, was mentored by Slim. Willoughby was the second-ever high school player to enter the NBA. Moses Malone was the first after signing with Maryland, then jumping to Utah of the ABA in 1974 after graduating from Petersburg High School in Virginia.
Tom Boose was another player mentored by Sherman. ”I met him when I was about 15 down at Avon Park with Bobby Hurt,” recalled Boose.
Bobby “Left Hand” Hurt, a legendary player who came out of Jersey, said, “Sherman was the toughest man I ever met.”
“We played together on the Oldtimers. There was no playing around with him,” said Boose. “He played to win at all times. I played with him at the Rucker. I got my determination from him. He gave a lot to a lot of different people.”