Former President Barack Obama's High School Basketball Jersey Sells for $120,000 at Auction

Maria Varela
Aug 22, 2019
04:20 P.M.
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Barack Obama's high school basketball jerseysold for $120,000 at an auction. It's been decades since a man kept it as it was about to be thrown in the trash.

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Way before he became president of the United States, Barack Obama was a high school student in Honolulu who dabbled in basketball.

And while he didn’t make it to the NBA, one of his jerseys made it to an auction house recently and sold for a whopping $120,000.

Then President Barack Obama giving a speech at a dinner in Berlin, Germany on June 19, 2013. | Source: Getty Images

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UNEARTHING A GEM

Peter Noble was a former schoolmate of Obama in Punahou School who came across the 44th president’s number 23 jersey. Noble spotted it when it was about to be thrown in the trash. He kept it in his closet for years, not realizing until later that it was worn by Obama in school. 

“Basketball was a refuge, a place where I made a lot of my closest friends and picked up a lot of my sense of competition and fair play.”

It was only after he saw a photo of the former president wearing the 1997-1978 jersey that he realized its value. This prompted him to offer it to Heritage Auctions which confirmed that the jersey was the same one Obama was wearing in the photo. 

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The jersey was sold for $120,000 to a collector of American and sports memorabilia who refused to be named. A portion of the sale will reportedly go to the school, according to Noble. 

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THE VALUE OF BASKETBALL TO OBAMA IN THE PAST

Obama opened up to Sports Illustrated in 2008 about his passion for basketball and how it was an important part of his teenage years.

“Basketball was a refuge, a place where I made a lot of my closest friends and picked up a lot of my sense of competition and fair play,” he told the publication. At the time, he would play two to three times a week.

“I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts."

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WHAT BASKETBALL IS TO HIM TODAY

Today, he is an NBA fan who frequents the league's games. He's also involved in the proliferation of the sport in Africa via the Basketball Africa League. NBA partnered with FIBA to create a 12-team league that will commence games in January 2020. 

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Obama expressed support for the league by tweeting his delight in the possibility of basketball not just uniting the region through the sport but in other ways.  

“I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts," he said.

"Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court.”

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