Paducah NAACP to Honor Basketball Coach Legend with Monument, Street Designation
A national basketball figure from Paducah will be honored with a monument and street dedication in August. Clarence “Big House” Gaines garnered numerous achievements during his decades-long coaching career at Winston-Salem State University.
He retired in 1993 and is one of a few African American coaches in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He died in 2005. Paducah-McCracken County NAACP branch president J.W. Cleary said a monument for Gaines was overdue and will serve to show young African Americans in the community what they can accomplish.
“We’re not doing it for ourselves, we feel like it gives young folks motivation to make something out of themselves and be something.” Cleary said.
The street dedication will be on 7th Street. Cleary said the street used to be the center of African American entertainment and commerce. The street featured many African American owned businesses, including the Metropolitan Hotel, which was once owned by the Gaines’s family and hosted many famous African-American sports figures and entertainers, such as Louis Armstrong, B.B. King and Duke Ellington.
The monument dedication in the Robert Coleman Park is on August 7 at noon. The unveiling of the street sign will follow. There will also be a reception at 1:30 and a banquet at 6:30. Among the banquet guests, there will be University of Memphis and former University of Kentucky head coach Tubby Smith, Former U.S. Olympic Track coach George Williams, as well as Gaines' children, former New York Knicks VP player Clarence Gaines Jr. and founder of Research Explorers Lisa Gaines McDonald. Reservations for the banquet are suggested.