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YouTube Gold: Earl “the Goat” Manigault

A lost but not forgotten great of the game

Street basketball player Earl Manigault addresses the Columb
 UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 16: Street basketball player Earl Manigault addresses the Columbia University basketball team.
Photo by Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Earl Manigault was born into poverty in Charleston, South Carolina and functionally abandoned by his parents. He was taken in when he was seven by a woman named Mary Manigault. She later moved to New York, taking Earl with her, and that’s where the world started to hear about the Goat.

Everyone who was around him as a young player says the same basic things that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says about him on this video: that he was the greatest talent in the history of the sport.

There doesn’t seem to be any video of Manigault so mostly we have still pictures and stories.

Even so, you get an idea of who this prodigy was. Just 6-1, he may have had the highest vertical in the history of the game. Reportedly he could touch the top of the backboard, which almost no one can do. Jabbar talks of his phenomenal quickness. He was from all accounts an immense talent.

As a kid, Manigault suffered trauma in many ways and his development was stunted emotionally, socially and intellectually. He became a heroin addict as a young man and that effectively killed his career. After his recovery, he spent years trying to keep kids from making the same mistakes that he made.

He remains an iconic figure in the game, especially in New York, and a legend that should be passed down. There was only ever one Goat.