Hopewell loses basketball icon
Jul 11, 2014, 13:50
HOPEWELL — The area has lost a local basketball icon with the death of Harry James Bradley on July 3.
"Coach Brad," as he was known, was honored in 2010 when his name was added to the Hopewell Athletic Wall of Fame.
Bradley was a member of a state championship basketball team at the all-black Carter G. Woodson School before segregation ended in 1968.
During the ceremony in 2010, Bradley said he was grateful for his inclusion on the Wall of Fame as an alumnus of Carter G. Woodson.
"I want to thank the committee for selecting me and having the foresight of the inclusion of people who played at Carter G. Woodson," Bradley said. "At some places this would never have happened."
Graham Vance Johnson, a basketball star at Hopewell and later at Virginia Commonwealth University who was added to the Wall of Fame the same year, thanked Bradley, who was his junior varsity basketball coach.
"Coach Bradley didn't just make me a good basketball player, he made me a good man," he said at the time.
Bradley, son of the late Joseph Sidney and Mary Alice Bradley was born March 11, 1945, in Hopewell, the seventh of eight children, according to his obituary.
"Athleticism runs deep in the Bradley family and you could find Harry being coached by his brother Joe, a star of the local Vikings team," it says.
As a high school player, Harry James Bradley started for four years and won a state basketball title under coach Robertnette "Pro" Hayes at Carter G. Woodson. He scored over 1,000 points in his high school career. He held the single-game scoring record with 44 points in a game. He was named as the captain of the Trotters during his junior and senior years and graduated in 1963.
He received a full scholarship to Saint Paul's College in Lawrencevile. He also was named captain of the basketball team six games into his freshman season, and remained in that position for all four years averaging 19.5 points per game during his college career. He received the CIAA All Tourney Award for the season of 1963-1964.
He received a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education in 1967.
Following graduation, Bradley pursued a professional career in basketball.
According to his obituary, after making it through the New York Nets try-out camp in 1969, he was told he was good enough, but "for attendance purposes" the Nets wanted to secure someone from either New York or a big college.
"He was very disappointed, but opted to return home to Hopewell and make it his mission to help the kids and community," the obituary says.
He later received a Masters in Administration and Supervision from Virginia State University in 1977.
He went on to coach basketball at Hopewell and Petersburg and Saint Paul'¯s College and served as Petersburg's athletic director.
He became an assistant to his former high school coach, Robertnette Hayes, and to Bill Littlepage at Hopewell.
"He has been quoted saying that he learned discipline and motivation from Hayes, and emotional control from Littlepage. Whatever a youth was missing physically, he taught them to make up for it mentally," the obituary says.
He taught at Carter G. Woodson starting in 1967. He served as the junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant at Hopewell High School through the 1987-88 season. He then served as assistant coach at Virginia State University alongside his friend, coach Harold Dean who assisted him in obtaining his head coach position at his Alma Mater, Saint Paul's College.
While at Saint Paul's, he received the CIAA Coach of the Year award in 1989.
Bradley concluded his collegiate coaching career at North Carolina Central University. He retired from the Petersburg Public School System as Athletic Director in 2007, but continued to serve as an adviser.
Bradley is survived by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren, and numerous family members and friends.
There will be a viewing on Friday starting at 4 p.m., at First Baptist Church of City Point, and a memorial tribute from 6-8 p.m. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, July 12, at noon at Hopewell High School gymnasium. Interment services will be immediately following the funeral at Appomattox Cemetery, Hopewell.
Funeral services are entrusted to Metropolitan Funeral Service, Portsmouth. The full obituary can be read at www.metropolitanfuneralservice.com.