The FAMILY Inc.: Family News: Our Family History - UPDATED 2011

Our Family History - UPDATED 2011
When you join The Family, you become a part of Indiana's rich basketball heritage.  Founded by Kevin Merriweather in 1990, The Family actually traces its roots back to 1950's Crispus Attucks High School, where Kevin's father Willie Merriweather played with future NBA All Star Oscar Robertson and future Harlem Globetrotter Hallie Bryant on the legendary Crispus Attucks Tigers teams.  Crispus Attucks school had been established by Indianapolis city leaders as a school for black students to "segregate" them from the white public schools in the city.  But rather than become a "second class" school, Attucks instead attracted an overwhelmingly professional faculty said to have more Masters and Doctorates than any other school in the city.  With this faculty base of bright, motivated community leaders Attucks became a very special place, turning out college graduates and professionals in the same manner as todays exclusive private schools. 

This focus of excellence in academics was carried forward into athletics as well with the hiring of Coach Ray Crowe in 1950.  Crowe, known as a great disciplinarian, believed in student athletes and "the relationship of player attitudes and the morale of the community".  Coach Crowe also played to win, and win he did.  From first being denied entry into the IHSAA, Attucks went on to become the primary basketball power of the era.  After a 1954 semi-state loss to tiny Milan of "Hoosiers" fame, the Tigers bounced back to win the state championship in 1955, posting a 30-1 record.  Crispus Attucks had become the first school in Indianapolis, as well as the first all black school in the country, to win a coveted state basketball title.  Attucks then returned again with a consecutive title in 1956, posting a perfect undefeated season.  Crispus Attucks High School had become a showcase beacon of excellence for both academics and athletics, and a source of great pride for the entire Indianapolis community.  Crispus Attucks and the Tigers had made the first breakthroughs in the highly segregated society of the era, knocking down barriers for future generations.

Willie Merriweather, High School All American for the Tigers, went on to become a college All American for Purdue.  He forsake a pro career in favor of education, but instilled the Attucks legacy of academic and athletic excellence in his son Kevin.  Kevin's upbringing was steeped in the basketball culture, even working for a time with the NBA players as an advisor.  An educator himself, Kevin started the Family in 1990 as the Bedford Riverside Pistons, later changed to the West End Girls, for his then 11 year old daughter Katrina and her friends.  Katrina played at Cathedral High School, was an Indiana All Star, played her college ball for Cincinnatti,  eventually moving on to coach at the Division 1 level.   The Family took its current name in 1992, evolving into a multifaceted girls youth mentoring program and carrying on the Attucks spirit of community service, independence, and academic and athletic excellence.

The Family of today has come full circle in so many ways.  Offering youth mentoring and help for kids of all ages and backgrounds, The Family is a unique resource to the community.  True to the spirit of Coach Ray Crowe, our kids are taught the value of excellence and winning, both on the court and in life.  And the quality of basketball is second to none. The Family teams are taught a free and creative style of play that has helped them dominate the state and national tournament scene, providing our student athletes with unmatched exposure to college scouts and coaches.

To date The Family has helped  over 100 student athletes secure athletic scholarships.  Our alumni list includes Miss Basketball winners from 3 states, over a dozen McDonalds All Americans, and to date 5 of our graduates have moved on to professional careers in the WNBA.  But for every famous alumni there are ten young ladies whose lives have been positively influenced by The Family for whom we are just as proud.

The 1955 State Champion Crispus Attucks Tigers

Family Reunion by The O Jays

Handout: Our Family History