Jim Thorpe (aka Bright Path) was born May 28, 1888. His father was of Irish and Sac and Fox Indian descent. His mother was French and Native American.
Thorpe was raised as Sac and Fox in Oklahoma. Thorpe--who had a twin brother--landed in an Indian boarding school in Kansas because he kept running away from home.
In 1904, he continued his education at an Indian school in Pennsylvania where Glenn Scobey Pop Warner coached him and recognized his athletic gifts. Thorpe became a star athlete in track and field first. It was in 1911 he drew national attention for his talent as a football player. In a game against Harvard--a top-rated team--Thorpe scored all of his team's points. His school won the national championship in 1912 in large part because of his efforts.
Thorpe became an Olympic athlete competing in the 1912 games where he won gold (among other awards) in the decatholong and set an Olympic record that held for 20 years. Thorpe was later stripped of his medals when it was discovered that he had been paid as a professional baseball player before the Olympics. (The medals were reinstated posthumously.)
Thorpe played baseball for the championship winning NY Giants baseball club and several other successful teams through 1919. He also played football during this time for a series of winning teams.
From 1921-1923, he helped organize and played for an all-Native American team. He retired from football at age 41. After his sports career ended, Thorpe struggled to support his family. He also dealt with illness and alcoholism. He died in 1953. He was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963 after his death.
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for more profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year's profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013. Copyright 2013.