Sports pioneers reflect on Obama’s inauguration

Barack Obama will be inaugurated Tuesday as the 44th President of the United States and become the first African American to hold the highest office in the country. Sporting News gathered the thoughts on this historic occasion from several black sports pioneers and luminaries.

“Everybody knows the significance of a new president coming in, but him being an African American, to me it’s the greatest thing that’s happened since the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s a sort of mental emancipation. Most African Americans never envisioned being able to be President of the United States. This almost frees your mind of thinking there are any things you’re not capable of being. I have not been this excited about anything I can recall, if ever. Now there aren’t any things you cannot see your grandchildren accomplishing. We had lip service for years about that, but he is living proof there’s a possibility of that happening.”

— John Thompson, the first black head coach of the a U.S. Olympic team and the first to lead a team to NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship. He will be attending the inauguration. (as told to Mike DeCourcy)