Local

Morehouse’s legendary basketball coach Arthur McAfee Jr. had strong ties to Wichita

Famed movie producer Spike Lee, left, and Arthur McAfee Jr. shared the love of basketball. Mr. McAfee was longtime coach at Morehouse College in Atlanta, with 518 career victories. He died March 7 in Atlanta.
Famed movie producer Spike Lee, left, and Arthur McAfee Jr. shared the love of basketball. Mr. McAfee was longtime coach at Morehouse College in Atlanta, with 518 career victories. He died March 7 in Atlanta. Courtesy of Sylvia McAfee

Growing up during the Great Depression, the two McAfee brothers shared a bedroom in the McAfee house at 933 Indiana Street in the heart of Wichita’s African American neighborhood.

Arthur, the oldest, was tidy and organized.

Charles, the youngest, adored his big brother.

“He was my leader, big brother and best friend,” said Charles McAfee, who grew up to be a prominent Wichita architect. “If I came in and threw my jacket on the bed, he’d say hang that jacket up – and I did. Our mom and daddy sacrificed all they had to give us an education.

Charles’ big brother, Arthur J. McAfee, Jr. grew up to become the beloved athletic director of Morehouse College in Atlanta and the winningest basketball coach in the school’s history with 464 wins from 1965 to 2000. His 1990 team – “featuring future NBA player and current New York Knicks executive Harold Ellis – advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four. His teams won three SIAC titles and made three NCAA tournaments,” according to a news release issued this past November by Morehouse College when the floor at Franklin Forbes Arena was dedicated in Mr. McAfee’s name.

Mr. McAfee died Wednesday, March 7, in Atlanta. He was 88 years old.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. March 21 at the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel in Atlanta, Ga.

Born on July 10, 1929, Mr. McAfee is from one of the oldest black families in the city’s history. Growing up, the two McAfee brothers – with a three year age difference – would often spend most of their childhood playing basketball on the courts across the street from their house and attending Dunbar Elementary School. He was a graduate of East High School and a 1951 graduate of Wichita University.

Mr. McAfee went on to coach at Lane College, Mississippi Valley State University, Lincoln University in Missouri and Bishop College in Texas. He also served as third vice president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1999 and, in 2000, he was elected president of the association but retired due his wife’s illness.

“He retired to take care of her,” Charles McAfee said. “There was a time he couldn’t get a job anywhere in Kansas. But when he started at Morehouse, they had never won much until he got there and got a program started.”

Through the years, Mr. McAfee became friends with some of the sport’s most prominent athletes such as Wilt Chamberlain and Morehouse’s famous students, including Spike Lee.

“Let me tell you about Spike Lee, what happened when Spike came to Morehouse, he was 5 feet, 5 inches tall and wanted to come out for basketball,” Charles McAfee said. “My brother told him he had guards that were 6 feet, 5 inches tall and that ‘What I want you to do is concentrate on something that you have as much passion about as playing basketball. Spike did his first film before he left Morehouse and in it were two girls from Wichita who were going to Spelman College and Samuel Jackson.”

In 2013, Mr. McAfee was inducted into the National Association of College Directors of Athletics.

Mr. McAfee is survived by his wife, Sylvia, two daughters, Sylvia McAfee, Jr. and Gwen McAfee Bynum, one son, Arthur McAfee III, brother, Charles F. McAfee, two granddaughters, Dylan LaRue McAfee and Joi Silver, one grandson, Joel Silver III, three nieces, Cheryl McAfee, Pamela McAfee and Charyl McAfee-Duncan.

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

  Comments