This Day in History. On this day in history, May 28, 1888, Jim Thorpe was born near present-day Prague, Okla. in a one room cabin. Thorpe was Sac, Fox and Potawatomi. He was the great-great-grandson of the legendary Indian warrior, Chief Black Hawk.
Thorpe excelled at every sport he played. He attended Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, and the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. While attending Carlisle, Thorpe repeated his 1911 accomplishment, being voted a first-string All-American halfback. During his last college season, Thorpe scored 198 points — including 22 of 27 winning points against Army, a team which included Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Thorpe became an iconic hero, so much so that when King Gustav awarded him two Olympic gold medals the king said to him, “You, sir, are the greatest athlete in the world.”
Thorpe won his two gold medals against incredibly difficult odds.
He was orphaned as a child and placed in the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an Indian boarding school, which he attended from 1904 to 1913. He represented the United States at the Olympic games 12 years before American Indians gained U.S. citizenship. On the transatlantic trip to Stockholm, Thorpe and a Jewish teammate were forced to travel in the bottom of the ship, while the white American Olympic athletes received first-class accommodations.
Thorpe was the first president of the new American Professional Football Association, later the NFL. His name and skill on the field gave credibility to the sport, which he played professionally until he was forty-one years old. For two of those years, he coached and played for the Oorang Indians, an all-Native-American franchise out of La Rue, Ohio.
Thorpe’s versatile talents earned him the distinction of being chosen, in 1950, the greatest football player and the greatest American athlete of the first half of the twentieth century by American sports writers and broadcasters.
The production of a full-feature film "Bright Path: The Jim Thorpe Story" was stalled because of the Covid-19 pandemic but will be rescheduled when feasible.
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