What: "SportsCentury: Arthur Ashe"
Where: ESPN Classic, tonight, 5 and 8
This profile of Arthur Ashe, first televised by ESPN Classic Feb. 19, shows why, besides being a tennis star, he was considered to be one of the most important sports figures of the 20th century. It also shows why he was considered so infinitely good and pure.
Adversity followed Ashe throughout his life. He lost his mother at a young age. Heart trouble forced him to retire from competitive tennis at 36. During heart bypass surgery in 1983, a transfusion he received contained tainted blood with the HIV virus. He died of AIDS at 49 in 1993.
During the turbulent late 1960s and at the height of racial tension in this country, black militants tried to recruit Ashe. But he preferred a tamer, more gradual approach to race relations. He is shown at the time saying, "Militants would rather lose gallantly than win practically. I prefer to win practically."