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NPR: A truly heartbreaking story of Jim Thorpe and his burial


I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time to open up the pages of the Washington Post Magazine. That's something we do just about every week for interesting stories about the way we live now. And today we have a story about the legendary athlete Jim Thorpe.

People today may only know that name from the town in the Poconos that is his last resting place and they may assume that the town chose to rename itself after a famous native son who went on to Olympic athletic glory, but they'd be wrong. Jim Thorpe never set foot in the town named after him while he was alive. How he came to be buried there is a tale of messy family business and a culture clash that continues to this day.

Washington Post staff writer Neely Tucker is with us now to unpack this complicated and frankly heartbreaking story. Neely Tucker, thanks so much for joining us.

MARTIN: People today may not remember Jim Thorpe, but he is widely considered by many people to be the greatest athlete of the 20th century. Why do people say that?

TUCKER: Because he virtually created professional football and was widely regarded as the greatest track and field athlete as well in the first half of the 20th century. One measure of this is in 1950 sportswriters were asked to name the greatest athlete of the half century. Babe Ruth, who many people would think would be that today, got 86 votes. Jim Thorpe got 252."

Get the Story:
The Twisted Path To Lay A Legend To Rest (NPR 3/22)

Related Stories:
WaPo: Jim Thorpe's sons battle to rebury him in Oklahoma (3/16)
Column: Father and son working to return Jim Thorpe home (02/22)
Judge allows NAGPRA suit over reburial of Jim Thorpe remains (11/30)

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