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Thursday, February 28th, 2013 at 1:34 pm  |  39 responses

Remember Alimoe

A tribute to Harlem’s own streetball legend Crispy Alimoe aka The Black Widow.

by Joseph Vecsey / @JosephVecsey

As I was driving home Monday night and stopped at a red light, I checked my Facebook news feed and read that Alimoe had passed away. I’m sure my first reaction was similar to most: It couldn’t have been true. I had just spoken to Al on the phone last week.

As soon as I read that, I called his phone. It actually rang like normal, then went to voicemail, and all I heard was him saying “Widow!” That’s been Al’s voicemail greeting since I met him. It made me sad hearing it, and part of me was hoping we would find out this was all false.

I quickly reached out to some mutual friends and people who also knew Al just so we could talk about him, remember him and laugh about how funny he was. I know there are countless others who were closer to him and I encourage you to leave your comments below and share your stories/memories with everyone.

Here are some of my thoughts and memories of Alimoe. The first time I met Alimoe, aka The Black Widow, was in the summer of ninth grade when I played in the Battle of the Boroughs open run at Madison Square Garden. I remember Al being really nice and telling me that the red shirt I was wearing underneath my jersey didn’t go with the uniform and I should wear a white one instead. When you grow up watching someone as a little kid, stuff like that sticks with you.

Al was one of the original AND 1 Mixtape players who I emulated and studied as a kid. I can remember vividly pretending I was Al by imitating his high dribble crossovers and moves during and after high school practices against my teammates. I have practiced Alimoe’s moves in countless gyms. Streetball legend Wally “Main Event” Dixon told me that someone had messaged him saying they were up all night doing Alimoe’s moves when they found the news.

“All around the world, I’ve been getting messages about Alimoe. Even people in Africa, Poland,” Main Event says. It’s amazing how far someone’s talent can travel. I remember showing my friends in Long Island all the AND 1 Tapes he was on, The Rucker DVDs, and watching Streetball on ESPN 2. I always felt there were not enough highlights of Alimoe. I always wanted to see more. Not too many players were able to be that relaxed and nonchalant with their entire game.

“Drinking Ice-T with my shades on, that’s how cool I am when I play,” Alimoe famously said in an AND 1 commercial, and it was the absolute truth. I never could get over how his dribble and style of passing looked in person. He was a legitimate 6-8 ballplayer who dribbled like a guard and passed the ball out of nowhere so effortlessly without even bending down.

His passes would come straight out of his dribble and he’d just release the ball to the open man with his signature two-handed, behind-the-back pass that I never saw anywhere before he did it. I don’t think anyone has or ever will make that pass better than him. He could throw his signature pass 80 different ways, whether it be to a cutter, bounce pass, alley-oop, advancing the ball up court, and any other combination you can think of that you can do as an assist. I remember pulling it off once in an organized game in Staten Island and feeling like I just slept with a super model. That’s how dope imitating an Alimoe pass could make you feel.

“T.E.A.M. is for Tyrone Evans Ali-Moe. He was the best passer I ever saw play the game of basketball. He was a legend. He was a trend setter. Harlem’s finest. He was a great friend. He was also very influential and very inspirational,” says popular and well-respected streetballer Randy “White Chocolate” Gill.

“One of the good dudes in basketball. A real good dude. What you saw is what you got with Al. And one of the baddest cats I ever seen on the court hands down. He was like a little brother to me,” streetball legend Anthony “Half Man Half Amazing” Heyward says.

The most amazing thing about Alimoe is that he was able to do all his flashy moves within the game. Streetball legend Lonnie “Prime Objective” Harrell really felt good when Alimoe told him he liked his game. “He gave me the stamp. Told me Harlem loves me. I was already a fan of his. He was in my top-five streetball players already. I had seen him play before I even touched the floor at Rucker,” Prime Objective says.

Prime Objective was from DC and made quite the impact when he came to Rucker. Prime was pretty surprised to find out that another dude with his height could dribble better than him. Kobe Bryant was Alimoe’s favorite player. He and Prime used to talk about games a lot. Alimoe loved Kobe’s footwork. “Al really had an IQ for the game of basketball,” says Prime.

I was always surprised with Al’s IQ for the game as well. Especially when you see a bunch of highlights of a guy playing a certain way, you don’t know that he really knows the game inside and out. I remember Al even speaking on the AND 1 tapes or shows about defense and recovery, when the defender is vulnerable, how the kids don’t want see me come down and take a pull-up jump shot. Al definitely encouraged playing the game the right way and working out before the tricks. He was someone who clearly had both. I can always remember him saying, “work on your game.” As much as he did the tricks, he definitely wasn’t into all the extreme illegal stuff people would do the court.

He was also a streetball legend before he got officially put down with AND 1. Alimoe was one of the guys who helped make AND 1 a successful streetball brand. If you watch Volume 1, The Battle Tape: Alimoe Vs Skip, and Volume 6, a lot of that footage is just Al playing in Rucker, different tournaments or all-star games. All the moves he was making were being pulled off with real referees and against players trying to win.

“Alimoe was my first intro to Rucker. During the daytime the announcer would be calling him Alimoe, but as it got darker, they would start calling him The Black Widow. And he had like two different types of games. Alimoe was a smooth type of ball player. Rock you side to side. But The Black Widow was more ‘I’m gonna wrap it around your neck, your back.’ More fancy but within the rules of the game, ” says Main Event.

Main had even told me about a game he once played at Rucker where his team not only won, but he got MVP. He was happy but actually felt like giving his trophy to Alimoe because he had so much respect for his game and that this was Al’s world; Harlem world. Main also knew that if Al’s team won, Alimoe would definitely have gone home with MVP. It was quite cool to hear the way Main Event spoke about Alimoe. He really respected Al as a player and a person. Everyone speaks about him in a similar way. It’s one thing for people like myself to look up to him, but it’s not often guys all around the same age (maybe a four- to five-year difference at most) give someone that type of respect on and off the court.

Before the AND 1 tour, Main was taking car service from Jersey into Harlem to play a lot and he saw Al walking on the street and pulled over one morning. He took Al out for breakfast and just kicked it. The history and friendship of Alimoe and Main went way back before the AND 1 tour. It was like that with Al and a lot of the New York ball players who were on the circuit. These guys all knew and respected each other’s games way before any ESPN2 cameras were around.

Brit “Shasee” Grady, who was a good friend and lived in Jersey, fell in love with Alimoe’s game when he first saw him play. Even though Grady was from Jersey and was a straight fan of Main’s, he started to become a huge fan of The Black Widow’s game. Grady would go watch both of them play, but Main could tell that he might have enjoyed watching Alimoe more than him.

“If we both had games at the same time, he might miss my game and go see Alimoe’s,” said Main Event. Streetball legend “Shane The Dribbing Machine” Woney remembers being up by 30 on 145th and being subbed out with the rest of the guys at halftime until a skinny kid who was about 17 or 18 showed up and changed the whole game around in one half. “That’s when I knew this kid Al was gonna be special,” says Shane, remembering the days before he was officially being called Alimoe. “Alimoe always respected the purity of the game of basketball.”

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  • shutup

    Amazing write up, powerful piece. R.I.P.

  • TL

    That’s powerful man… Great job telling us about the guy. Rest in peace.

  • speedy

    R.I.P. Great person, great player.

    Idealized and copied his game.

  • http://www.rich-imaging.com/ Dutch Rich

    RIP Alimoe. Beautiful tribute. Thank you Joseph!

  • speedy

    Thanks for the great story telling.

  • JBuckets44

    Besides MJ…my favorite basketball player…HANDS DOWN…R.I.P…..great article

  • DannyAingesBarber

    RIP Alimoe. I was a big fan of him back in the mixtape days. Great to get some insight to what he was really like as a person. Excellent tribute.

  • bike

    Anyone got a link to a bio on Alimoe? Can’t seem to find one anywhere.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    Thank you Joseph. Thoughts to Alimoe’s family.

  • http://twitter.com/_DFrance DFrance

    That’s the one thing that always amazed me about Alimoe, not only did he have the ball on a string, but he was 6’8 and barely bent his knees. He would make most of his moves standing upright and shorter guards could never take the rock from him. RIP

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.welsh1979 Daniel Welsh

    Nice article for the “Ultimate” nice brother. On and off the court. Never forgotten. T.E.A.M.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Really really great Joseph. RIP Alimoe.

  • http://SLAMonline.com/ Ryne Nelson

    Co-sign. Well done Joseph, and R.I.P. Al.

  • AQWORD

    R.I.P. Bro

  • Comment_System

    Gonna miss playing with him @ Riverbank

  • jaycee

    LEGEND. I was in Harlem late last year (my first time coming from AUS) for a bball tour and you really feel the spirit of guys like Alimoe up there. Every block, every court. NYC really is the spiritual home of basketball.

    On the health tip, if it was/is the diabetes, please take the lesson, get off all that soda, white sugar, fake sugar and corn by-products. All DIRECTLY linked to diabetes and a whole range of other health issues.

    One Love Alimoe you touched those who knew you and even more who didnt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donte-Machiavelli-Hudson/100000723951750 Donte Machiavelli Hudson

    R.i.p. Alimoe – one of my idols, straight up

  • nychoops

    well done Joseph! Al would appreciate the LOVE.

  • https://twitter.com/Wayne__o BuenoWayno1

    All over nyc people have a alimoe story, teachers,ballplayers, young and old….rip alimoe

  • Marco

    Great piece no Alimoe on picture #4 though

  • Timothy “storm” Coleman

    We want to thank you Brother Alimoe for the things you have done and the world you have opened up. R.I.P my Man and brother……..Timothy”Storm” Coleman……..Sullivan Community College………We remember the great fun times

  • Brandan E

    damn man, im gonnamiss this dude. he was the only and 1 dude down to earth and a really funny dude.
    but his game spoke volumes, i saw early on that this dude coulda played in the L and been nice for a number of years.

    its saddens me that he’s no longer here, please people if u havent seen this dude play please watch and 1 vol. 1 & vol. 6
    im gonna miss u alimoe!

  • Melodie Dominguez

    I remember the very first time I meet Alimoe it was in high school Julia Richmond and we both had gym class together and it happened to be basketball he was the funniest and the most helpful and I say helpful because without him I would have never passed gym he pushed me he taught me the drills how to palm a basketball and dribble he can tell that basketball was his passion and his love for the game was pure. Without him I would have never passed my basketball gym class… To hear about his passing truly broke my heart and I will forever be greatful for the time that he put in just to make sure I understood the game and his love for basketball he will truly be missed

  • O’Neal Richards

    Met Alimoe in 2001 Summer through my Cousin. He taught me so much about ball, Countless hours in the summer at Baby Rucker park then indoors at Abyssinian Gym. So many Jokes when I was around him. It’s just Sad that Saturday morning I pass by Abyssinian Gym and realized its now only a Day care center and said man I haven’t See Al in about 2 summers I gotta link up with him to get back in the zone for the summer on the court, then I get this news on Monday across my Twitter and I’m just in shock still.. Going to a candle light Vigil is so Unrealistic to me, I can’t hear myself saying I ” used to know Alimoe” or ” RIP Alimoe” I called him Black but Crispy Alimoe was the jokes daily. Real Fun loving down to Earth dude and to me The Best Street baller I’ve Ever Met! Sleep in peace my G!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chuck-Schick/100002008824265 Chuck Schick

    rip crackhead

  • Drejax

    R.I.P Alimoe….beautifully written Joseph…..givin the legend his proper respect and accolades.

  • 125th-140th all day

    If u not from NYC u could never truly understand.

  • http://twitter.com/rubthemtogether Jennifer Lopez

    RIP

  • larrylegend

    R.I.P. Will be remembered by everyone who ever saw him play. Unique person.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    Didn’t say he was but agreed that was sloppy. We took it down, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/niQknacks niQ

    RIP Alimoe, will always remember you from the And1 Mixtapes. Thanks for the tribute Joseph.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1703497467 Bridgit Mitchell

    What a great article. There are people who knew Al and people who think they knew him. He was complex but quite amusing. His straight-forwardness changed my life forever. It will take a long time for me to accept that my best-friend have passed on.

  • Mars

    RIP Alimoe. Helped shaped this generation of ballers that now run the league. Respect.

  • T-man

    R.I.P. Alimoe! I will be watching the EBC DVD tonight!

  • Mike

    you suck like your old man joe

  • Teddy AKA Father Time

    I met al in Harlem picking him up for a basketball game.driving down to Virginia my kids loved him we had a great time.talking to my son about the game.and ever since then we remain friends.playing ball at the Woodbridge Y.with main event and others.Al would come over stay weekends and say he loves jersey.we laugh and I would say just your way of slowing down for a couple of days.I am going to miss you you my friend thanks for be a good friend and inspiration to my boys.
    Don’t cross ova god.he will catch you too

  • http://www.facebook.com/JosephVecsey Joseph Vecsey

    Thank you, Ryne and Dutch. Glad the article came out looking right for Al.

  • T Bone

    Such sad news. Alimoe was a real legend. i remember back in the day when you could first create players on the nba live games, i created all the and1 crew and you just couldnt put a weakness in Alimoe’s game. i used to love the fact that it was serious to him – he didnt just mess around, he wanted to be (and wanted others to be) a complete basketball player, not just the flashy stuff, but well grounded in the fundamentals. its a real shame he never got/took his chance to make it to the nba.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Ben Osborne

    Just updated post with this info: Funeral Services (UPDATE): Due to the expected overwhelming turnout, services (which will be held on Tuesday, March 5) have been moved to the United House of Prayer, 2320 Frederick Douglass Blvd (8 Ave) @ W. 124th Street NY, NY 10027.
    If you need further info or Instructions do not hesitate to contact
    Unity Funeral Chapels 2352 8th Avenue New York, NY 10027 212-666-8300.
    If needed also you can contact Fort Washington Florist 212-795-2978 for
    floral arrangements.

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