Julius Erving was born in Hempstead, Long Island. His father left the family when Julius was only three. His mother worked as a domestic to support her three children. The family lived in a public housing project, and life was difficult, but Mrs. Erving worked to instill a sense of self-worth in her children, and young Julius realized his gift for basketball could be a ticket to a better life. By age ten, Julius was averaging eleven points a game with his Salvation Army team.
When Julius Erving was 13, his mother remarried, and the family moved to the nearby town of Roosevelt. There, Julius maintained a high academic average and played on the high school team, all-county and all-Long Island teams competing in state-wide tournaments. Erving acquired the nickname "the Doctor" while still at Roosevelt High. His teammates would later alter this to "Dr. J."
The basketball coach at Roosevelt High, Ray Wilson, introduced young Julius to Coach Jack Leaman of the University of Massachusetts. After high school, Erving entered the university, where Ray Wilson was hired as assistant coach the following year.
At Massachusetts, Erving broke freshman records for scoring and rebounding, leading his team through an undefeated season. The next year, he had the second best rebound tally in the country. Over the summer, he joined an NCAA all-star team touring Western Europe and the Soviet Union. He was voted most valuable player on this tour.
Julius Erving left the University to go professional after his junior year. He is one of only seven players in the history of NCAA basketball to average over 20 points and 20 rebounds per game.
In 1971, Julius Erving began his professional career with the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association. The ABA was fighting an uphill battle to gain the same recognition enjoyed by the more established National Basketball Association (NBA). Julius Erving, or Dr. J, as fans now called him, did more than anyone else to win that recognition for the new association.
In his first pro season, Dr. J, ranked sixth in the ABA in scoring, third in rebounding. He was voted ABA Rookie of the Year at the close of the season. The following year, he led the ABA in scoring, averaging 31.9 points per game.
in 1973, Dr. J attempted to sign with the Atlantic Hawks of the NBA, and found himself on the middle of a complicated legal wrangle. The Squires claimed he was still under contract to them, the Milwaukee Bucks claimed draft rights to Erving under NBA rules, and his old management sued him for damaging their reputation by trying to break the Squires contract. The affair was finally settled out of court. Erving remained with the ABA to play for the New York Nets. Once again, Erving led the league in scoring and led the Nets to an ABA championship, winning four-out of-four games against the Utah Stars. In the first of these games, Erving scored 47 points, sparking comparisons with the greatest players of all time.
In the 1974 season, Erving suffered from knee pains and was forced to wear special braces on the court, but it didn't stop him from another spectacular season. On his 25th birthday, he scored 57 points against San Diego.
After being voted Most Valuable Player in the ABA form 1974 to 1976, Dr. J. moved to the Philadelphia 76ers of the national Basketball Association. He remained in Philadelphia for the last eleven years of his pro basketball career, leading the 76ers to an NBA championship in 1983. When Dr. J. finally retired in 1987, he had scored over 30,000 points in his professional career; he is one of only three players in the history of the game to achieve this feat.
After retiring from professional basketball, Julius Erving became a commentator for NBC and appeared in the feature film The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh.
Julius Erving now serves on the Board of Directors of Meridian Bancorp and of the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. He is also President of the management and marketing firm JDREGI. He is, of course, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and in the memories of everyone who ever saw him play.