Temple Family Paves Way for African-American Athletes

Learn how Garrett Temple’s father played a historic part in desegregation in America.
by Stephanie Lovell

Across the nation, Feb 3 marked the start of NBA’s Black History Month celebration. The Sacramento Kings have done their part to honor pioneers past, present, and future by incorporating educational elements from various African-American groups and displays from American River College.

The Kings have also invited historic figures who’ve played landmark roles in black history to be part of their celebration. As the first African-American to play basketball at LSU, Collis Temple Jr., father of Kings guard Garrett Temple, has been one of the Kings recent honorees.

Temple Jr., father of the Kings very own Garrett Temple, played collegiately for the Tigers from 1971-74. Though it’s been more than four decades since his playing career at LSU, Temple still remembers what it was like to be at the forefront of change.

“I went to LSU shortly after Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis and we were in quite a bit of a turbulent time,” Temple Jr. said. “Particularly in the south so it was quite a challenge, but we did fairly well. And it was interesting and at the same time, a really challenging time.”

The Temple family has a long legacy of paving the way for African Americans. Garrett’s grandfather, Collis Sr. was originally turned down to attend school for his Master’s at LSU. But seven years after the Civil Rights Act passed and segregation ended, he was approached by the Governor of Louisiana to help integrate the school. By offering his blessing for his son to become the first African-American basketball player at LSU, Garrett’s grandfather opened the door for future generations.

His grandfather paved the way, his father broke the barrier and a generation later Garrett followed in his father’s footsteps to become a star at LSU.

“There’s been a lot of other players that have been able to get there and he was the first one,” Garrett said of his father. “It’s very interesting and I’m very proud of the fact that he was the first.”