Born: March 13, 1942 (Topeka, KS)
Graduated: Topeka H.S., 1960 / University of California-Los Angeles, 1964 / MBA, University of California-Los Angeles / J.D., Columbia University
Deceased: October 6, 2016 (Santa Monica, CA)
Athlete. Champion. Class President. Agent. Attorney. Union leader.
Fred Slaughter was a man of many talents, and his leadership took him many places, but he got his start here in the heartland.
In high school, he led a three-sport student athlete life, playing football, basketball, and running track. As a junior, he led the Topeka High basketball team to a state runner-up finish in 1958. The following year as a senior, Slaughter won the state championship in the 100-meter in 1959.
When the time came to go off to college, Slaughter had many options available to him and received over one hundred scholarship offers. He chose to leave the Sunflower State for the sunshine of southern California to play for a young John Wooden at the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA and Wooden had some success prior to Slaughter’s arrival by winning several conference titles and appearing in three NCAA Tournaments, but the school hadn’t become the powerhouse that would change the landscape and history of college basketball. Kansan Fred Slaughter was a part of creating that historic foundation.
In college, Slaughter focused on basketball, although he did compete on UCLA’s track team during his freshman year. He went on to become a three-year letterman in basketball under coach John Wooden, and earned the Seymour Armour Memorial Award as the team’s most valuable freshman in 1961.
As a senior in 1964, he and the “Bruin Blitz” led UCLA through its first undefeated season, winning 30 games and earning the school its first NCAA men’s basketball championship. UCLA went on to win nine of the next eleven national titles based on the foundation laid by Slaughter and company in 1964.
Slaughter ended his collegiate career second in school history in rebounds with 791, including leading the team in the category during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Off the court, Slaughter found another opportunity to lead. He served as UCLA’s class president during his senior year before graduating in 1964. The Southern Campus Yearbook of 1964 wrote that Slaughter carried out his duties as class president with “aplomb and dignity.” The same yearbook also wrote that a “heft, feisty” Slaughter organized mass fast break drills and demonstrated the technique behind a full-court press.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Slaughter continued his studies at UCLA to earn a Master’s in Business Administration. He later earned a law degree from Columbia University. From 1971 to 1980, he served as the assistant dean of admissions and student affairs at UCLA’s School of Law while teaching classes in law and business.
Slaughter wasn’t finished leaving his mark on athletics however and became one of the first African American sports agents and sports attorney, with clients including Jamaal Wilkes, Clyde Drexler and Dennis Johnson.
Slaughter’s name is not a new object to the halls of fame. He claimed a spot in the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 before joining the Topeka-Shawnee County Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. The Topeka Capital-Journal ranked him No. 14 out of the 100 greatest athletes in Shawnee County history in 2014. The following year, Slaughter added the Topeka High School Hall of Fame to his collection.
At his 2008 induction to the Shawnee County Sports Hall of Fame, Slaughter said, “It’s very cool. These are levels of my life and to be told, or let known, that I achieved and did well, I like it. I like it very much.”
Slaughter passed away in Santa Monica in 2016 at the age of 74. UCLA Athletics wrote that he was remembered for his “incredible sense of humor, compassion and kindness. He selflessly mentored scores of individuals, encouraging them to rise to the highest level.”
Today, he is also remembered for his contributions to athletics right here in the heartland as his name is etched on the immortal role at the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.