1998 Greater Flint Afro-American Hall of Fame Inductee
Parents: Rev. Justus and Eula Thigpen
Son: Justus, Jr.
Justus came to Flint at an early age. He attended Jefferson Elementary, Bryant Junior High and graduated from Northern High School. He attended Flint Junior College (Mott Community College) and graduated from Weber State University in 1969. Justus was one of the first athletes from Flint to play professional basketball.
He began playing organized basketball his senior year in high school and as a starting guard, he was the second leading scorer for the Vikings which earned him a scholarship to Flint Junior College. While at FJC, Thigpen did more than blossom as a player, he virtually dominated the league. His 26.5 point average earned him the honor of being named Junior College Athlete of the Year and a berth on the Junior College All Star Team. These accolades caught the attention of many Division One schools. Thigpen decided to transfer to Weber State University.
In 1968 he was the leading scorer for Weber State, enabling this relatively small school to make it to the NCAA tournament. People began to hear about the star guard for Weber State. Thigpen definitely lived up to his reputation. The San Diego Rockets and Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association, were both vying to recruit Thigpen. His choice was the Cougars. This choice began a well traveled career in professional basketball. Justus played basketball from Pittsburgh to Paris, and eventually with the Pistons. He has competed with some of the best players in the world.
Basketball is a very important part of Thigpen’s life. Flint owes much of its reputation as a city of basketball excellence to Justus Thigpen. As the first basketball player from Flint to make it to the NBA, Thigpen paved the way for many young athletes to follow in his footsteps.
He continues to be involved in organized basketball in Flint and has helped to maintain and enhance Flint’s reputation as “Hoop City, USA.”
Retired from the Flint Parks and Recreation Department, Justus resides in the Flint area.
Congratulations, Justus Thigpen, you have made your mark in Flint history.