Tennis great Arthur Ashe would have been 74-years-old on July 10, 2017, if the Richmond, Virginia native had not died on February 6, 1993, at the age of 49. Even though he died at such a young age, he accomplished more than some people do who live much longer.

Richmond residents and people around the world were saddened when Ashe died from AIDS contracted through a tainted blood transfusion in 1983 after suffering a massive heart attack several years earlier.

Richmond celebrates Arthur Ashe

There will be a birthday blast and a tunnel art project unveiling in recognition of Ashe's birthday at Battery Park tennis courts on Wednesday, July 12, from 6 to 8 p.m.

An organization with a very long name, Upholding Networking Inspiring Togetherness in Celebration of Yesterday (UNITY), is using the money it raised to reinvent the tunnel in the park near the tennis courts where Ashe grew up and learned to play tennis.

The celebration is to honor Ashe, but people are invited to attend the birthday party and receive gifts. For instance, the Richmond Tennis Association is offering free tennis lessons to children 8-16. There will be prizes and other gifts for adults as well. A drawing will be for a very special prize. Everyone is invited to come to the park and enjoy refreshments.

For the last week, painters have been working on a mural for the tunnel in Battery Park and it will be unveiled to the public during the celebration.

Legacy

It is interesting to know that Ashe began playing tennis when he was 6 years old. One reason is that his father was a caretaker for the park where he and his son lived after his mother died. Arthur spent a lot of time at the four tennis courts.

Arthur Ashe's name is seen on many buildings and places not just in Richmond, Virginia but in other places around the world.

The Ashe Athletic Center in Richmond is an arena with 6,000 seats for sporting events and concerts. In fact, it was big enough for Ashe's funeral to be held there.

There is a statue on Monument Avenue in his likeness. Flushing, New York the home of a stadium named after Ashe and the annual Arthur Ashe Kids' Day.

The United States Postal Service released a commemorative postal stamp honoring Arthur Ashe in 2005.

The Arthur Ashe for Courage Award is given out every year at the ESPN's annual sports event. That event, ESPY Awards, is televised on Wednesday, July 12 at 8 p.m. An Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center is located in Philadelphia and the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center is at UCLA, Ashe's alma mater. An elementary school in Richmond, Virginia is named after him as well as a charter school in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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