From humble beginnings but with strength and determination, hall-of-fame basketball player Jesse "Cab" Renick lived an extraordinary life, becoming an Olympic gold medalist and World War II veteran. In this episode of Thrive: Unconquered Spirit, Richard Hendricks, director of the Oklahoma Territorial Capital Sports Museum, and Justin Lenhart, museum curator at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, reflect on Jesse's life and legacy.
Renick began his basketball career playing for Hale’s Tire Shop, an Amateur Athletic Union team. Two years later he was selected to play on both the Murray State College basketball and football teams and named an All-Star in the Missouri Valley Conference for both of these sports. From there, the Chickasaw and Choctaw athlete went on to start for Oklahoma A&M University Aggies basketball. "He was an athlete from the time he started walking and going, he started running and moving," says Justin Lenhart. "He could jump. He could run. He could shoot. And he had a full grasp of what was going on on the court."
It was during his time at Oklahoma A&M that he left to serve his country and his tribe in the U.S. Navy during World War II. "It showed pride as a Native American warrior. He saw a necessity to be a part of World War II, and so he joined the service and served, as many others did," says Richard Hendricks. "All of these things led into him being a successful individual, as well as a successful athlete."
After the war Renick resumed his career in basketball, joining the Phillips 66ers, and in 1948, he served as captain on the USA Olympic basketball team, leading his team to win an Olympic gold medal and becoming the second Native American in Oklahoma history to win an Olympic gold medal. Following the 1948 season he was named coach of the 66ers, winning 205 games in four years and capturing the 1950 AAU championship.