From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Payne, Thomas R., Jr. "Tom"

(born: 1951) 

Born in Louisville, KY, Thomas R. Payne, Jr. was the first African American recruited and signed to play basketball at the University of Kentucky (UK) in 1969. Payne, a 7'2" center, had played for Shawnee High School in Louisville. UK had tried to recruit 15 African American players, but Payne was the first to accept the offer. He averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds during the 1970-1971 season, then went pro, signing with the Atlanta Hawks. In 1972 he was convicted of rape in Georgia and Kentucky and spent the next 11 years in prison. He tried to return to basketball but was again convicted of rape in California in 1986. For more see J. R. McGill, "Kentucky a Leader in Integrating SEC Sports," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/31/90, Sports section, p. D14; and M. Story, "Prison Awaits Payne in Kentucky," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/02/2000, Sports section, p. C1.


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NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

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“Payne, Thomas R., Jr. "Tom",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed December 18, 2018,

Last modified: 2018-09-18 20:39:23