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Event Highlights Connection Between Philadelphia Basketball Legend, Eastern State Penitentiary

By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On Thursday night, a special event called “Play it Forward” will be held at Eastern State Penitentiary, to raise money to save a series of murals painted in what was the office of the Catholic Chaplain.

The murals and the Penitentiary have a fascinating connection to a Philadelphia basketball legend.

Sally Elk is the president and CEO of Eastern State Penitentiary and she pulls the threads of this story together.

“This is a story of an inmate who decorated the offices of the catholic chaplain at Eastern State Penitentiary in 1955,” she explains. “And it turns out that that catholic chaplain was Father Edwin Gallagher, who was Herb Magee’s uncle.”

That inmate was a man named Lester Smith.

Magee, of course is the Hall of Fame basketball coach at Philadelphia University, Father Gallagher served as his legal guardian after his parents death.

Magee actually played some basketball games as a teen at the prison against the inmates.

Tickets for Thursday’s event are available here:

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