Harold "Happy" Hairston (May 31, 1942 – May 1, 2001) was an American professional basketball player. He played for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was a member of the 1971–72 NBA championship Lakers, a team that won 33 games in a row, a record not duplicated in any other American professional sport. Hairston was a 6'7" (200 cm) 225 lb (102 kg) forward. He was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Hairston attended Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He played college basketball at New York University from 1962 to 1964, where one of his teammates was Barry Kramer. He played professionally for the Cincinnati Royals and Detroit Pistons before joining the Lakers in 1969.
In 1971-72, Hairston grabbed 1,045 rebounds; his teammate Wilt Chamberlain pulled down 1,572. Hairston led the Lakers in both rebounds and field goal percentage during the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons, and set an NBA record for most defensive rebounds in a quarter with 13 (vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, November 15, 1974).
During his 11 seasons in the NBA, Hairston averaged 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds.
After his retirement in 1975, Hairston established the Happy Hairston Youth Foundation in Century City. With financial help from celebrities such as Kelsey Grammer, the foundation found bright children from broken homes and paid for their college education. He also hosted a celebrity golf tournament. He had a small role in the 1981 Happy Days episode "Tall Story," where he played the father of an epileptic high school basketball player.
Hairston died at the age of 58 in Los Angeles from complications due to prostate cancer.
By Dean Hanley
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