Biggest Impact: Arthur Ashe
Synthesis of Biographical Profile
Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. was born July 10, 1943 in Richmond, Virginia to Arthur Ashe, Sr. and Mattie Cordell Cunningham Ashe. Arthur, Jr. was the oldest of two boys. He died on February 6, 1993 at the age of forty-nine. Arthur Ashe made the most of his short life in the years in between.
In 1950, his mother passed away from complications with pre-eclampsia during a pregnancy. She was twenty-seven years old. Arthur and his younger brother, Johnnie, were raised by their father, Arthur Sr., who was strict in discipline on all accounts. Arthur Sr. was a tennis player and activist. Arthur Sr. would not allow his son to play football, ...view middle of the document...
In 1988, Ashe was diagnosed as HIV positive, most likely contracted from tainted blood transfusions received during one of his earlier heart surgeries. He would keep this information private until he was forced to make the public announcement in 1992, when USA Today, via a personal "friend," threatened to out him. After his announcement, Ashe went on to advocate for AIDS awareness, sex education, and founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, and, just before he died in 1993 from AIDS-related pneumonia, he also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health (Bodo, 1996)..
Discussion of the Social and Historical Context
Early in his life, the Ashes lived next to the Brook Field Playground, which was Richmond Virginia's largest blacks-only playground. This one fact offers insight into race relations during his accomplishments. The time was before racial integration was a popular idea. It was not within social norms for a young black man to play tennis.
In Days of Grace: A Memoir, he said, “As happened much of the time when I was growing up, I was the only black kid in the tournament, at least in the under-eighteen age section” (Ashe, Rampersad, 1993).
Arthur Ashe was the first black player selected to the Davis Cup Team and, to this day, is the only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the U. S. Open and the Australian Open.
Significant Impact on the Current Sport and Social Landscape
Arthur Ashe used his talent and abilities as a platform for social reform and issues that needed to be brought to the public's attention. He has shown courage in the face of adversity, inspiring ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the annual ESPY awards. This is given each year to the athlete who shows courage in the face of adversity, like Arthur Ashe did (“Arthur Ashe Award,” 2012).
He spoke up about atrocities of apartheid policies in...