LEBANON, Tenn. — John, commonly known as “Jumpin’ Johnny,” Kline, a former Harlem Globetrotter turned drug abuse counselor, died on July 26 at his home in Tennessee. He was 86.
According to the Harlem Globetrotters website, Kline played with the Globetrotters from 1953 to 1959. During his time with the team, the Globetrotters won the “World Series of Basketball” against the College All-Americans. Before Kline left the team in 1959, the Globetrotters were undefeated with 441 wins, according to the team’s website.
According to the New York Times and The Detroit News, Kline struggled with heroin addiction and was occasionally homeless after leaving the Globetrotters. It took him about a decade to recover, after which he enrolled at Wayne State University, where he received his master’s and doctorate in education.
He served as a methadone program director through the 1970s. In 1986, Kline was named the director of education and substance abuse for the City of Detroit’s health department, the Times reports.
Kline founded and was president of the Black Legends of Basketball in 1996. Kline is listed as one of 29 “legends” on the Globetrotter’s website, having received his “Legends” ring in 2002.
The Globetrotters confirmed Kline’s death on Twitter.