Recognizing Carl Helem

Oct. 27—I was still a freelancer when I was assigned this story, but it was one that really stood out to me throughout the year, even after coming aboard full-time.

Carl Helem had such an interesting story I felt more people needed to know about. The fact he was a kid from Kentucky made his story all the more relatable to folks in our area.

Helem rose above all of his trials and tribulations, starting his basketball career on outdoor courts in the Jim Crowe era to eventually become an integral part of the Harlem Globetrotters, which put the brand on the map.

I found during the course of writing this article, however, that Helem's biggest accomplishments were the impacts he had on those loved.

I was fortunate enough to talk with his wife's cousin, Shirley Williams, who grew up in Helem's and his wife Jacqueline's home.

Williams's accounts of Helem made the Globetrotter more than just an incredible athlete and an over-the-top character on the basketball court, but a man of character and responsibility.

The part that stands out to me the most from Williams's recounting was that Helem always called home every night, regardless of where in the country or world he may have been. It was like clockwork. No matter where he was physically, his heart was always at home.

Sitting down with Williams and her husband was a great experience and one that I count myself fortunate to have had. As a freelancer, summer sports stories are few and far between due to the lack of any actual sports taking place. So, the fact that I got to do this story was incredible.

This story stands out to me as one that showed me how enjoyable diving deep into a feature can be.