Lou Hudson, former Gophers star, dies at 69

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 11, 2014 - 11:16 PM

Lou Hudson died on Friday in Atlanta after a major stroke in March put him in hospice care. “Sweet Lou” will be remembered as one of the greatest players in Gophers basketball history. He went on to star for the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA.

view larger photos

  

Irwin Smallwood was a golf writer, sports editor and editor for the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record for nearly a half century. For most of that time, Cleola Hudson worked for the Smallwood family as a housekeeper and other duties.

Segregation still had a strong hold on the South in the early 1960s. “We weren’t really covering the black high schools at that time,” said Smallwood, now 88. “Mrs. Hudson told me a few times that she had a son who played basketball, and she thought he was pretty good at it, and that I might want to go to Dudley High School and watch him.

“I did that, and her son was bringing the ball up the court, and making shots, and getting above everyone for rebounds, and I went back to the office and said, ‘Gentlemen, there’s quite a basketball player over at Dudley named Lou Hudson.’

“Bones McKinney, the coach at Wake Forest, would have loved to have Lou, but it was just a couple of years too early for that down here. Bones told his good friend John Kundla about Lou, and that’s how he wound up at Minnesota.”

Lou Hudson, among the greatest of all Gophers basketball players, died Friday at age 69 while in hospice care in Atlanta. He had suffered a stroke on March 24.

Hudson had a previous stroke in 2005 that had left him needing a wheelchair or other aids to get around.

“I talked to Lou a couple of months ago and he was rehabbing every day and feeling good about the progress he was making,” Smallwood said. “He said, ‘We’re going to play a round of golf before this summer is over.’ ”

Mardi Hudson, Lou’s wife, said he suffered the stroke while lifting arm weights on the deck of his place in Atlanta. “The terrible thing about all of this has been to see him there in the hospice, looking so darn good,” she said. “Lou had been working out four, five times a day, getting stronger.”

Mardi Smith was from Windom, Minn., and first met Lou when he was a student at Minnesota and she was a student at Mankato State in the mid-1960s. Two decades later, Mardi was living in Park City, Utah. Lou was working on the Atlanta Hawks telecasts as an analyst, he connected with Mardi for a dinner date and they wound up getting married in 1987.

Lou became a prominent citizen in Park City and, in 1993, he was elected to the city council with the help of campaign signs that read, “Sweet Lou for You.”

There was another Sweet Lou, Nanne, the hockey player from the Soo, on the University of Minnesota campus when Hudson arrived in the summer of 1962. More than Sweet Lou, Hudson was known as the lead name in the Minnesota basketball partnership of “Hudson, Clark and Yates.”

New to town

Hudson, Archie Clark and Don Yates were the first three black players to receive basketball scholarships to Minnesota, through the outreach of coach John Kundla and his assistant, Glen Reed.

“I was 17 when I got to Minnesota,” Hudson said in a 1994 interview. “I had been out of high school less than a week. Clark and Yates did not arrive until later in the summer. It was amazing, for a kid who had lived with segregation in North Carolina, to be on that campus …

“I would ride the bus down to Hennepin Avenue once in a while, just to run into another black person and maybe talk for a few minutes.”

Freshmen were not eligible for varsity competition at the time. Reed was the varsity assistant and also the freshman coach in the winter of 1962-63.

“We would bring the freshmen over to scrimmage the varsity,” Reed said in 1999. “If the varsity tried to press, Hudson, Clark or Yates would be shooting a layup a couple of seconds later.”

Hudson was a sleek 6-foot-5 forward from Greensboro and came to the Gophers because of a Kundla-McKinney connection dating to the NBA. Yates was a 6-foot-3 guard from Uniontown, Pa., the town from where the Gophers had recruited quarterback Sandy Stephens. Clark was a 6-foot-2 guard who was serving in the Air Force; he came on a recommendation of Reed’s friend Buzz Bennett, who was the basketball coach at Andrews Air Force Base.

  • related content

  • Saunders, McHale share memories of Lou Hudson

    Friday April 11, 2014

    The debate as to where Lou Hudson ranks among those who wore a Gophers uniform can continue. But as far...

  • About Lou Hudson

    Friday April 11, 2014

    Born: July 11, 1944, in Greensboro, N.C.College highlights: Averaged 20.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in his three seasons...

  • lou hudson, minnesota gophers basketball player.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Detroit
Dallas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Vancouver 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Chicago 7:00 PM
Nashville
Arizona 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Carolina 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Columbus 9:30 PM
San Jose
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who should get the Twins' managing job?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close