Baldwin remembered as great athlete

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2008

NATCHEZ — Larry Baldwin was remembered by friends and family as one of the greatest basketball players any of them has ever seen and a guy who was always wanting to help local kids play the game better.

Baldwin died earlier this month and numerous old basketball friends and coaches, including former Mississippi State basketball coach Richard Williams attended his funeral.

“Larry was probably the best basketball player I’ve ever seen in 50 years of playing and watching the game,” Baldwin’s cousin Johnny Baldwin said. “He just acted as if he was born to play the game.”

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There are several stories that Johnny Baldwin likes to tell about his cousin, one of them involving the night Larry schooled someone who was invited to try out for the Dallas Mavericks.

“Our team played a semi-pro game in Monroe, La. and this guy stole the ball from Larry and started talking trash,” Johnny Baldwin said. “Larry scored 46 points in the second half on that dude. Larry beat him bad.”

Larry Baldwin was an All-American at South Natchez High School and signed a basketball scholarship with Ole Miss, although he didn’t play there.

Former teammate Elbert Lyles said he remembered Baldwin for his passion for the game.

“He was the most outstanding basketball player I’ve ever seen,” Lyles said. “He was the only high school All-American to come out of South Natchez that I know of.”

Johnny Baldwin said that after Larry stopped playing the game, he would regularly offer advice to kids he would see playing the game.

“Larry always wanted to help people,” Johnny Baldwin said. “He would see kids playing ball and stop and help them. He would tell them how to improve their shot or how to handle the ball better; things like that.”

And, like everyone else that knew him, Johnny Baldwin said he will miss his cousin.

“I used to talk to him every day,” Johnny said. “I’m sure going to miss him.”