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Julius Erving was born in Hempstead, Long Island New York.  His father left the family when Julius was only three.  His mother worked as a domestic to support her three children.  The family lived in a public housing project, and life was difficult, but Ms. Erving worked to instill a sense of self-worth in her children.  Young Julius realized his gift for basketball could be a ticket to a better life.  By age ten, Julius was averaging eleven points a game with his Salvation Army team. 

When Julius Erving was 13, his mother remarried, and the family moved to the nearby town of Roosevelt.  There, Julius maintained a high academic average and played on the high school team, all-county and all-Long Island teams competing in state-wide tournaments.  Erving acquired the nickname "The Doctor" while still at Roosevelt High.  His teammates would later alter this to "Dr.J" The basketball coach at Roosevelt High, Ray Wilson, introduced young Julius to Coach Jack Leaman of the University of Massachusetts. 

After high school, Erving entered the university, where Ray Wilson was hired as assistant coach the following year.  At Massachusetts, Erving broke freshman records for scoring and rebounding, leading his team through an undefeated season.  The next year, he had the second best rebound tally in the country.  Over the summer, he joined an NCAA all-star team touring Western Europe and the Soviet Union.  He was voted most valuable player of the year. 



Revised: July 18, 2013.