Linden McKinley High School basketball legend Ahmad Aliyy to be honored this weekend
Ahmad Aliyy, formerly Edward "Skip" Young died at age 74 in March. He is a celebrated basketball player at both Linden McKinley High School and Florida State University.
Columbus basketball legend Ahmad Aliyy will be honored this weekend, a month after he died at age 74.
Aliyy, formerly Edward "Skip" Young, was a Linden McKinley Hall of Fame inductee and All-American guard who helped lead the school to an Ohio state championship in 1967. He brought his high school success to Florida State University, where he was also inducted into the Hall of Fame, and eventually founded the Greater Columbus Basketball Legends Association.
Aliyy's former Linden McKinley teammate and friend Jim Cleamons said Aliyy played basketball differently than others, showing a love and passion for the game akin to a musician putting on "a show of joy and celebration."
"When he had that basketball in his hand, it was like his best friend," Cleamons said.
The association plans to hold its Hall of Fame induction ceremony alongside the Classic for Columbus All-Star Game at the Schottenstein Center on Saturday starting at noon with musical guests the Isley Brothers. The game pits an HBCU team against an all-Ohio team, which will be coached by Cleamons.
LaGlory’s Soul Food Café, located at 3350 Allegheny Avenue in Columbus, will also dedicate a dish to Aliyy called the Skip Young Special. A press release says the restaurant will hold a ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday for the perch fish plate with Aliyy's wife and family present.
Aliyy and Cleamons went their separate ways after winning the OSHAA championship with Cleamons staying in Columbus at The Ohio State University and Aliyy going south to Florida State University.
Aliyy was among the university's first Black scholarship players and helped lead the Seminoles to a 58-20 record in his three years at the school from 1968-1971. He was elected to the Hall of Fame at FSU in 2006.
The Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets drafted Aliyy in the seventh round of the 1971 NBA and ABA draft respectively.
Cleamons himself had a successful career in basketball becoming a nine-time NBA champion as both a player and coach. He first met Aliyy when the two were sophomores in high school and Aliyy made it onto the starting 5 on the Linden McKinley Panthers varsity team, something he said was unheard of at the time.
Cleamons said Aliyy's athletic ability was incomparable at the time.
"He could do things on the floor, athletically, that I could only just dream about," Cleamons said.
Aliyy became a high school basketball coach in Florida for the Florida A&M University Developmental Research School's girls basketball team. He helped to place the basketball into the hands of the next generation of players.
He moved back to Columbus and then founded the Greater Columbus Basketball Legends Association to honor the players who helped make basketball what it is today in Columbus.
Cleamons said Aliyy will be front and center at the Classic for Columbus game on Saturday and is sure Aliyy's presence will be felt there. Cleamons also said he will continue to remember his friend fondly.
"There's certain people that have a human touch. They can talk with kings and queens, all incomes and make you feel at ease. And that's the way Ahmad made you feel," Cleamons said.