CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- We hope Charleston's council approves a step to honor a beloved figure who enriched the community, then died too young of cancer at age 63.
Curtis Price was called "King" by his legion of friends. He was "just a very, very special person," council member Andy Richardson says.
Price grew up amid racial segregation and became a basketball star at the former Charleston High School, helping lead his team in an undefeated season and a 1968 state championship. Although a shattered knee limited him, he nonetheless played at WVU and pulled exuberant stunts such as leaping to straddle a backboard rim after a come-from-behind victory.
He earned a degree in education and social studies, and became the nation's youngest head basketball coach at West Virginia State University.
In the 1970s and '80s, Gov. Jay Rockefeller made him equal-opportunity employment director for West Virginia.
Price subsequently became a Job Corps leader, helping train low-income youths for good careers. He played pick-up basketball as an equal with students. He also was a gifted guitarist who performed with professional groups.
"He was one of the best people I ever met in life," fellow WVU basketball star Levi Phillips once said. "I'm not just saying that. He was just selfless. He was the reason I got a college degree. He stayed on my back. In my community, he helped everyone, whether financially or with his expertise."
After serving Job Corp posts around America, Price returned last year as head of the Charleston center. This spring, Gov. Tomblin honored him and other nominees for "Advancing Civil Rights Through Advocacy." But Price died soon afterward.
Charleston's center is located on an easterly hilltop, on an odd-named street, Kennawa Drive. Job Corps leaders and councilman Richardson pushed to rename the street Curtis Price Way. The city Planning Commission endorsed the request this week, and now the change is up to council.
We think it should be done, as a fitting tribute to his legacy.