FUTURE PRESIDENT PLAYED FOR HAWAIIAN BASKETBALL TEAM
Basketball was a refuge, Barack Obama told Sports Illustrated in 2008.
“[It was] a place where I made a lot of my closest friends, and picked up a lot of my sense of competition and fair play,” Obama said. “It was very important to me all the way through my teenage years.”
Nearly 30 years before he was elected president, “Barry” Obama played on both the J.V. and varsity teams at Hawaii’s Punahou School, with the team winning a state championship in 1979. Friends recall his playing nickname was “Barry O’Bomber,” because of his love of taking difficult shots.
A few years after Obama left Punahou, the school was discarding uniforms when a student saved it from the trash. “He decided to keep the jersey because he liked the number,” says Heritage Auctions’ Director of Sports Auctions Chris Ivy. “He realized only decades later that it had belong to Obama.”
The jersey, photo-matched to yearbook photos of Obama, is now being offered at Heritage’s Summer Platinum Night Sports Collectibles Auction scheduled for Aug. 17-18, 2019. It’s expected to sell for at least $100,000.
“Basketball was important to the 44th president of the United States,” Ivy says. “Basketball was a recurring theme in his eight years in office. He played ‘horse’ with reporters and he shot hoops with the military in Kuwait, and filled in his NCAA brackets every year. This is a truly special item for collectors or presidential memorabilia and American history.”