Biography

As the sportscaster who called nearly every L.A. Lakers game since the team moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in the 1960s, rapid-fire announcer Chick Hearn introduced some of the most colorful and enduring new basketball vernacular of the 20th century. Terms such as "slam dunk" and "air ball" would become so engrained in the terminology of the game that both announcers and fans worldwide would eventually adopt them. Born in Aurora, IL, in November 1916, Hearn would serve a 36-year tenure as the Lakers' only play-by-play announcer, with an amazing unbroken streak covering 3,380 consecutive games. In addition to the honor of being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Hearn would also become one of the few sportscasters to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A graduate of Bradley University, Hearn earned his famous moniker after being handed a box of sneakers with a chicken inside in his early years as a basketball player. After beginning as an announcer at Bradley, Hearn did play-by-play for the Peoria Caterpillars before moving to Los Angeles to work as a football and basketball announcer for the University of Southern California and hosting a popular sports radio program. Hearn was subsequently recruited by the newly relocated Lakers during the 1961 playoffs. Married to his high school sweetheart Marge, the couple parented a daughter who died as a result of anorexia and a son who would die tragically of drug addiction. Hearn would get his start in television as play-by-play announcer of Phillies Jackpot Bowling before making appearances in such popular television series as Gilligan's Island and The Simpsons, and such films as The Love Bug (1968), Fletch (1985), White Men Can't Jump (1992), and Love and Basketball (2000), usually appearing as himself. Three months after having open-heart surgery in December 2001, Hearn broke his hip only to return courtside and finish out the team's championship run. A second fall in early August 2002 however, found Hearn sustaining major head injuries and eventually succumbing shortly thereafter. Hearn was 85. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi