I Always Wanted To Be Somebody
Part 4

Althea Gibson


A friend of Althea introduced her to Edna Mae and Sugar Ray Leonard.

I had made friends with a girl named Gloria Nightingale, and now that I was on my own, I went to live with her in her family's apartment. I got a job as a waitress and I paid rent to Gloria's grandmother.

Gloria and I had a lot of fun together. During the winter of 1945-46, we played on the same basketball team—it was called The Mysterious Five-and we used to play as many as four or five games a week against different industrial teams. Whenever we weren't playing basketball we went bowling. Sometimes, even though it meant that we wouldn't get home until three or four in the morning, we would go bowling after we had finished a basketball game.

Gloria was like me. All she cared about was playing games and having a good time. I still consider those years the liveliest of my whole life. We were really living. No responsibilities, no worries, just balling all the time.

It was through Gloria that I met Edna Mae and Sugar Ray Robinson. Gloria had known Edna Mae for a long time, and one night when we were out bowling, we saw Ray in the place and she introduced me to him.

To show you how cocky I was, I got on him right away. "So you're Sugar Ray Robinson?" I said. "Well, I can beat you bowling right now!" I think he took a liking to me right away.

Anyway, from that night on, I used to go up to his place every chance I got. Whenever I could I would sleep there. Ray and Edna were real good friends.

I felt that they liked me, and I was crazy about them. When Ray went into the army, I stayed with Edna a lot. I was what you might call her Girl Friday. I did everything I could to make our relationship a lasting one.

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Althea Gibson: I Always Wanted To Be Somebody

I Always Wanted To Be Somebody is the intimate and candid story of a girl who grew up in the asphalt environs of Harlem, skipping school, drinking hard liquor, stealing and fist-fighting, but went on to break the color barrier in tennis and achieving the pinnacle of the sport by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and becoming an inspiration for many future champions such as Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams, among many others.

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