Because he was accomplished across so many spectrums, it is difficult to define Ray Crowe by a single achievement — or achievements.
Was it his standout basketball, baseball and track careers at Whiteland High School and Indiana Central College?
Or was it his founding of varsity athletics at Crispus Attucks High School? Or his 11 years as the school’s athletics director?
Or was it his 4½ terms in the Indiana House of Representatives? Or his stint as the director of Indianapolis Parks and Recreation?
Or was it his historic seven-year run as coach of the Attucks basketball team in the 1950s?
Nearly any one of the above would justify Crowe’s 1968 induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. But his unrivaled coaching career at Attucks cemented the 1934 Whiteland High School graduate’s fame nationally as well as statewide. There he:
Led Attucks, a segregated school at the time in downtown Indianapolis, to the 1955 boys basketball state championship. The accomplishment was unprecedented on two fronts: Attucks was the first all-black school in the United States to win a state championship, and it was the first Indianapolis school, period, to win the state basketball title.
The next year, Attucks — powered in part by future NBA star Oscar Robertson — became the state’s first undefeated state champion.
He coached the Tigers from 1950 to 1957. They reached the state finals four times, including a runner-up finish in 1957 and a Final Four appearance in 1951.
After leaving Attucks, Crowe — the older brother of the state’s first Mr. Basketball, George Crowe — served in the Indiana General Assembly and, in addition to leading the Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation, also worked as the assistant director of the Indiana Department of Public Instruction.
Crowe died on Dec. 20, 2003, at age 88.
— Compiled by Rick Morwick