By Melissa Chan
December 28, 2015

Meadowlark Lemon, who was lovingly known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” during his over 20-year run with the Harlem Globetrotters, died Sunday, the exhibition basketball team said. He was 83.

Lemon played in more than 7,500 consecutive games, dazzling popes and presidents in over 100 countries during his 24 seasons with the Harlem Globetrotters, the team said on Monday.

“For a generation of fans, the name Meadowlark Lemon was synonymous with the Harlem Globetrotters,” Globetrotters CEO Kurt Schneider said in a statement. “He was an incredible entertainer and brought happiness and lifelong memories to millions around the world. We have lost a great ambassador of the game.”

Lemon died in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he lived, the New York Times first reported. He had spent the last few years of his life as an ordained minister and motivational speaker, according to his website.

He served two years in the Army before trying out for the Globetrotters in 1952. The North Carolina-native played his first full season with the team two years later. Lemon entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 after receiving the John W. Bunn Award, which recognizes outstanding lifetime contributions to basketball, according to the team.

“To my fans across the globe, thank you for the memories,” he wrote on his website. “I want you to always remember that life’s most meaningless statistic is the half time score, and as far as I’m concerned it’s always half-time.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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