How a Loyola Chicago legend's career was spurred by Jackie Robinson

Head coach Porter Moser of the Loyola Ramblers speaks to former Loyola player Jerry Harkness during practice before the 2018 Men’s NCAA Final Four at the Alamodome on March 30, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Loyola Chicago is ready to go at the Final Four this weekend in San Antonio, and has stolen the show in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Naturally, with the potential to bring a national championship back to Chicago, comparisons are being drawn to the Ramblers’ 1963 national championship team.

Jerry Harkness led that team more than 50 years ago, winning the Ramblers’ only championship. Yet the former New York Knicks point guard almost never joined his high school team.

While growing up in Harlem, Harkness just played at the local YMCA just for fun. People kept telling him that he should go out for his high school team before his senior year, but Harkness was content just playing with his friends and messing around.

It wasn’t until Jackie Robinson — yes, that Jackie Robinson — approached him at the YMCA one day. Robinson complimented him on his game, and suggested he go out for his high school team. So he did.

From there, his basketball career took off.

Yahoo Sports’ Stephen Bardo sat down with Harkness in San Antonio this weekend to learn the story of his encounter with the baseball legend and the Ramblers’ 1963 championship run.

Check out the full video here:

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