Ernest A. DiGregorio Jr.

Inducted: 2001
Born: 1951

Enest A. DiGregorio, Jr., the legendary “Ernie D.,” was a Providence College consensus All-American basketball guard in the early 1970’s.
Ernie D. played on the 1968 Rhode Island (Class B) champions at North Providence High School. His success on the court made him a local celebrity and he was known to drive fancy cars with with “Ernie D.” on the license plate. He went on to play for the Providence College Friars, leading the team to a Final Four appearance in the NCAA Tournament during his senior year. Only an injury to teammate Marvin Barnes prevented the Friars from continuing to the final. It was a moment that lives on in the minds of PC basketball fans to this day. The defeat was a crushing blow for the team and their fans. DiGreggorio earned the 1973 Lapchick Award as the nation’s outstanding senior, Eastern Player of the Decade for the 1970’s and the National Basketball Association Rookie of the Year in 1974. DiGregorio then played on a college all-star team which defeated a Soviet team in an exhibition game.
He was drafted by the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association but opted instead for the NBA. While playing for the Buffalo Braves, Ernie won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1973-74. He continues to hold the NBA rookie record for assists in a single game. Gregorio led the league in free throw percentage a second time during the 1976-77 season. In 1977, DiGregorio joined other NBA stars in endorsing Spalding’s line of rubber basketballs, with a signature “Ernie D.” ball making up part of the collection. In the 1977-78 season, DiGregorio injured his knee and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, but was eventually waived. The Boston Celtics signed him as a free agent but he played only sparingly for the rest of the season. He did not play for the NBA again, although he did not formally retire until 1981.

Following his professional career, Ernie D. returned to Providence to earn a degree. In 1982, Ernie became the head coach for the Rhode Island School for the Deaf.

Ernie D. was the most imitated sports icon of the decade in southern New England. On February 5th, 2008, Providence College gave away commemorative Ernie DiGregorio bobble-heads in honor of retiring his jersey during halftime of the Friars game against DePaul. In his retirement, the great Ernie D. has been a celebrity host at Foxwoods, where he appears at various functions such as celebrity golf tournaments and corporate outings and sells his pasta sauce. He has also written children’s books. He lives in Narragansett with his wife Susan. Ernie has performed many social and humanitarian works benefitting his community, holding basketball clinics and giving advice and motivation to young basketball players at local schools.

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