Wish of a Lifetime marked a milestone on January 25th, 2015 when it granted its 1000th Wish since the organization’s founding in 2008. In partnership with Brookdale senior living, Wish of a Lifetime was able to reconnect two high school football rivals who hadn’t seen one another in 64 years – one of whom was the first African American drafted into the NFL, George Taliaferro.
Carl B., age 87, and George Taliaferro, age 88, grew up only a few miles apart in Gary, Indiana. The two star football players never met until they played against each other in the first integrated game for their racially segregated high schools. Both went on to live interesting lives. Carl joined the Navy and eventually got married, had four kids, and spent over 30 years working for Arizona’s Department of Education. Meanwhile, George built a Hall of Fame football career at Indiana University and went on to play football with the L.A. Dons, the New York Yanks, Dallas Texans, Baltimore Colts and Philadelphia Eagles. George also wound up in education, and worked for their alma mater, Indiana University.
It wasn’t until four years ago when Carl suffered a stroke that he tracked down his friend George and reconnected with him. They rekindled their relationship, a friendship that overcame the barriers of a segregated society.
The reunion was a wonderful celebration that brought tears to the eyes of just about everybody in attendance. The two men swapped stories, shared laughs, and of course debated about who got the better of whom when they first met on the football field back in Gary, IN. Josh Elliot with the TODAY show was on scene to interview the two and tell their incredible story.
Special thanks to Deanna Dent for providing the beautiful photographs