The Power of the Written Word
 

        Hetty Gray Net prophet: the bill garret story
By Hetty Gray

Firm foundations of family, faith, and community prepared Bill Garrett to lead an exemplary life. The harsh discrimination hurled at him in his youth failed to elicit anger. Instead, Bill's outward expression of an inner strength mocked his detractors in a way that left them helpless. Bill was the first Negro to play basketball in The Big Ten Conference, and his entry into Indiana University blazed a trail for the countless, talented Black athletes who have played collegiate basketball since 1948.

Personally, and professionally, Bill exhibited compassion, empathy, and grace in his dealings with others. A keen observer of the passing scene, Bill used every experience in his life to hone his skills as a parent, teacher, coach, and mentor.

Key to his life was his unique home county. Shelby County, Indiana, and its county seat of Shelbyville, document a rich history of opportunity for and acceptance of Negro residents that dates to the mid-nineteenth century. Although surrounding counties meted out hateful treatment to "people of color," Bill's home county did not. There was societal discrimination to some degree, but none that approached the level and climate of area communities widely known for their bias.

In a day when the concept of a strong, Black, male role model is sadly lacking, Bill's life offers readers a truly inspiring story. What's more, not only does his story transcend race, gender, and age, but it also illustrates how integrity and character prepare a person to face adversity.

Bill lifted every role of his life to new heights: he competed fairly, he coached instinctively, he listened intently, and he loved completely. In short, he was a real man.

An interview by Kevin Elixma of The Franklin

Book Reviews


"Net Prophet is a fascinating trip back through the pages of Indiana basketball history. As a contemporary of Bill, I consider this journey a nostalgic trek back in time. The story awakens memories of people, places, and events in my life. The book does justice to him, the game he loved, and the things he believed in. Bill Garrett will always be remembered as one of Indiana’s greatest players. I choose to remember him as a friend, 'the quiet man,' who made the game a little better for all of us."
Bob King, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Purdue University.

Net Prophet: The Bill Garrett Story is one of the greatest, most heart-warming stories I have ever read. Bill Garrett was a role model and a pioneer in race relationships. Young people, looking for a blueprint to live by, should read this book. Its pages capture much of the feeling that Indiana had for basketball throughout the middle of the 20th century, yet the message presented is not about a great basketball player --- the message is about a great human being."
Dave Nicholson, President, The Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

"Net Prophet: The Bill Garrett Story is the tale of a distinguished basketball talent and an exceptional man. From rural Indiana to cities across the Midwest, the demeanor and athleticism of Bill Garrett encouraged racial unity, as well as mutual understanding and respect. Hetty Gray’s account of Garrett’s life, both on and off the court, entertains and inspires."
Gene Cato, Former Commissioner, Indiana High School Athletic Association.

"I certainly enjoyed reading Net Prophet --- great book. There were many facets of the book that I enjoyed, but the detail and the historical facts were outstanding. The research that was given to the book was unbelievable. I was also treated to being able to reminisce about many of my boyhood memories of Indiana basketball. I think anyone desiring ‘a good read’ and having an interest in sports or human interest should make this book a top priority."
Sam Alford, Assistant Basketball Coach, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.

"An outstanding story about an outstanding Hoosier gentleman. Bill Garrett was truly 'Mr. Everything.'"
Herb Schwomeyer: Color Commentator for WRTV, Indianapolis; Author, Hoosier Hysteria - Indiana Basketball Historian.

"Bill Garrett should forever serve as a role model for young athletes and this wonderful book will ensure he is never forgotten. This is very fitting tribute to a remarkable Christian man; an extremely well-researched and well-written book."
Jim Hall, former newspaper sportswriter, editor

"I would like to say thankyou for such a great book about my grandad I loved it "
shelby shelton

"When I was district chairman of Shelby County for the boy Scouts, we were looking for a way to get more black boys into the scouting program. Bill was good enough to come back to the Second Baptist church to speak to parents at a dinner and help start a Boy Scout troop at that church. Thanks Bill."
Lyle Asher

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