The Biography of James Naismith • Owen Salzer

James Naismith: The Inventor of Basketball

      James Naismith grew up in Canada with his dad and his mom. He was born on November 6, 1861 in Almonte, Canada. His dad came down with a deadly disease called typhoid fever. His brother, sister, and he went to their grandmother’s home to stay. A week later, his dad died. A few weeks after that his mom died of the same disease. After that, his grandmother died of old age. The only one left to take care of them was their uncle, Peter.  His Uncle Peter lived in Bennie’s Corners near Almonte, Canada.

At the age of 15, James dropped out of high school to work as a lumberjack. He cut trees down for at least five years. Then he decided to change his self. James went back to high school and graduated.  After high school graduation, he wanted to go to college. His uncle said he could go if he promised to work on the his farm.  James made a deal with his Uncle Peter; he would work on the farm every summer and still go to college. His uncle wanted him to become a minister after graduating college. James entered McGill University in Montreal, Canada in 1883.

One day, James went home for a visit. His brother Robbie had terrible pain in his side. They thought he had a stomachache, but his brother actually had a bad infection. Robbie died a few hours later. A doctor could have saved Robbie had they sought one out sooner. Knowing that a doctor could have saved Robbie haunted James every day of his life. In 1887, James graduated at McGill University after studying Hebrew and philosophy. James had a lot of thinking to do about his future.

James wanted to become a minister at McGill’s Presbyterian college. He had much to learn. He studied all day and all night. James’ friends wanted James to play some sports. They told him that it would sharpen his mind up so he could think, but he kept on studying. One day his friends dragged him to the football field. James had lots of fun playing sports with his friends. In 1890, James became a presbyterian minister. James helped teens live better lives if he talked to them while teaching them sports.

James wanted to invent a game. He wanted to invent a game that had two teams. James’ eyes lit up. He said, “I’ve got it!” James needed two peach baskets for goals and a ball, too. Two teams went on the gym floor and started to play the game. On December 21, 1891 in Canada, basketball was made.

When James watched people play his game, people were bouncing the ball, and he heard a fast drumbeat. James thought dribbling would be a good name for it. In 1936, James was invited to the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. This was the first time basketball was in the Olympics. Basketball teams came from all over the world. Some players spoke different languages, but they all wanted to shake hands with the inventor of basketball. When basketball was one hundred years, old millions of people were cheering for their favorite team and players. Now, people have hoops in their backyards and play the game all over the world, thanks to James Naismith.

Owen Salzer is a student at Franklin Middle School 


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