From tiny Medicine Lodge, B.H. Born was a native Kansan who would star for his home-state school and become the Most Outstanding Player of the 1953 NCAA Tournament.
He wasn’t Wilt Chamberlain or Clyde Lovellette. And he didn’t score as many points as Danny Manning or Paul Pierce. But for a kid from the edge of southern Kansas, Born left his mark in Jayhawk history.
Born, a Kansas legend and a member of the 1952 NCAA title team, died on Sunday in Peoria, Ill. He was 80.
“He was certainly a gentleman and a great ambassador for KU through the years,” Kansas coach Bill Self said on Monday. “Our sympathies certainly go out to his family as they go through this difficult time. I’m sure our KU family is saddened today, but also very proud of the legacy that he left as a faithful Jayhawk.”
Bert H. Born, a 6-foot-9 center, arrived in Lawrence in 1950 after becoming a school-boy legend in Medicine Lodge. Freshman weren’t allowed to play in those days, but Born served as Lovellette’s backup during the 1952 title season — KU’s first NCAA crown — and averaged 1.6 points per game.
With Lovellette gone the following year, Born, a junior, averaged 18.9 points per game and led Kansas back to the NCAA title game, where the Jayhawks fell to Indiana 69-68 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City.
Even in defeat, it was perhaps Born’s finest moment as a collegian. He finished with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 13 blocked shots and became the first player from a losing team to be selected Most Outstanding Player.
Born is credited with having the first unofficial triple-double in program history.
An All-Big Seven selection the following year, Born averaging 19 points per game during his senior season. He concluded his career with three conference titles and a career record of 63-14. One of the most accomplished Jayhawks from the state of Kansas, Born also went on to represent the USA in winning the gold medal at the 1954 World Championships.
After his college career, Born was taken by the Fort Wayne Pistons in the third round of the 1954 NBA Draft. He never played for the Pistons, however, and he later spend time with an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Peoria, Ill.
Peoria soon became his home. Born worked more than 40 years as an executive in the Caterpillar Tractor Co. in Peoria, Ill, while often returning to Kansas.
Born’s No. 25 Kansas jersey was retired on Feb. 15, 1992, and he is a member of both the KU Athletics and Kansas Sports Hall of Fames.
| Rustin Dodd, email@example.com