Former Chicago Athletes: Where Are They Now?

What do star athletes do after their playing days are over? We tracked down a onetime Bears cornerback who’s now a practicing dentist and a missionary; a former Blackhawks star who copilots jetliners; an ex-Cub who became a jazz trumpeter; and more

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THEN Center, Chicago Bulls (1976–82, 1987–88)
NOW Assistant to the president at Jacksonville University

In his six full seasons with the Bulls, Artis Gilmore was a dominant offensive and defensive force. Averaging 20.1 points and 11.5 rebounds per game during that span, the seven-foot-two A-Train, as he was known, revitalized a franchise that had performed poorly the year before his arrival, leading the team to the playoffs in his first season.

Since retiring from the NBA in 1988, Gilmore has built a diverse resumé: partner in a cleaning solvents business founded by Roland Garrett, a fellow former Bull; project developer for minority companies at a mechanical contracting agency; partner in an insurance claims adjustment firm. In 2008, he joined his alma mater, Jacksonville University, as special assistant to the president. Gilmore’s principal duties include raising money for the school and providing basketball radio commentary. “I feel nothing but pride,” he says. “I’m glad I can come back to the place where it all started for me and be able to contribute.”

Gilmore, 61, first gained national attention at Jacksonville as a hoops sensation, averaging more than 20 points and 20 rebounds and leading his team to the 1970 NCAA championship game (a loss to UCLA). He spent his first five years in the pros as a star with the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association, and his combined ABA and NBA stats suggest he should have been a lock for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But after more than 15 years of eligibility, Gilmore still has no plaque bearing his name in Springfield, Massachusetts, which he sees as a disheartening oversight.

George Karl, who played against Gilmore in the ABA and now coaches the Denver Nuggets, thinks Gilmore belongs in the Hall of Fame. “I don’t think he ever got the credits or the accolades he deserved,” Karl says. “He was always one of the top five big men [in the game].”

“I don’t have any idea what the criteria are to be a Hall of Famer, but all indications are that my statistics say I am,” Gilmore says. Then he quietly adds, “I have no control over it. It’s nothing to get emotional about.”

UPDATE: Gilmore was inducted into the Hall of Fame on April 4th.


Photography: (Gilmore, then and now) courtesy of Artis Gilmore



3 years ago
Posted by Thane Of Cawdor

You'd think this guy growing up in Gary, Indiana and playing for the White Sox and he appeared as being a small town guy who found suucess and that he would be a decent guy but from all the accounts I've heard this guy is a total a**hole! Jerk!!!

3 years ago
Posted by OneTimeBlue

It's interesting that I came across this article, because it had recently crossed my mind as to what had become of some college athletes. In particular, Mark Aguirre, Teddy Grubbs and Terry Cummings from DePaul's NCAA glory days. Maybe you could do a follow-up story on these guys and other college and high school phenoms that did not complete a pro career, but were still a part of Chicago's sports history. As for this article, I am very impressed and pleased at the way you have taken several excellent role models for young athletes and shown them in a positive light. Please continue the good work.

3 years ago
Posted by left out

What about Tom O'Hara, the first native of the U.S. state of Illinois to break the four-minute barrier for the mile run. He accomplished this feat in 1963 when he ran the mile in 3:59.4.

He also held the world record for fastest mile in indoor track, which was set when he ran the mile in 3:56.6 on February 13, 1964. He later beat that record on March 6 of the same year with a time of 3:56.4, a world record that stood for fourteen years.

3 years ago
Posted by kjbsawb

THANE OF CAWDOR: you are a buffoon. An individual as uneducated (look at your grammar) and uninformed (White Sox?) should not be permitted to post comments to any blog. Carmen was a fan favorite and player's player because of his generosity and fiery competitiveness, among many other great qualities. It is obvious you have some personal ax to grind, and I doubt you you have ever held as much as a minimum wage job. Carmen was the ultimate in class as Cub, and he is certainly all of that as a human-being. Several friends of mine and I know this from personal experience.

3 years ago

@THANE OF CAWDOR...u must be talking about a different Steve Trout...the one I know who pitched for the Cubs/White Sox/Yankees and Seattle,is a classy gentleman and one of the nicest guys I have ever met. One I am proud to call a friend!

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