He was the son of Irish immigrants who lived in the city's Blue Hills neighborhood when it was a bit of an Irish enclave. He was blessed with lightning speed and big, quick hands. He was a born basketball star, at his best when the game was close.
Johnny Egan, one of Hartford's greatest athletes, was honored recently by his alma mater, Providence College. Mr. Egan led Weaver High School to the New England Championship and a 24-0 season in 1957 by scoring 36 points in the title game, including two free throws with no time remaining to send the game into overtime and 12 points in the overtime period. It was considered the greatest individual performance in the history of the tournament (which is no longer played, but should be).
Mr. Egan would go on to lead the Providence Friars to the 1961 National Invitation Tournament championship, putting the small Roman Catholic school on the basketball map. Despite a serious knee injury in college, Mr. Egan played for 12 years in the National Basketball Association.
He is now 70, a trim, white-haired grandfather, as graceful in the autumn of life as he was in its spring. Though he now lives in Texas, Mr. Egan remains a great ambassador for his hometown.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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