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Garage Sale Find Revives Champ's Legacy

Legacy.com / Nick Ehrhardt

Garage Sale Find Revives Champ's Legacy

In 1943, Joe Hunt was on top of the U.S. tennis rankings, coming off a win in the U.S. singles championship. He was the man to beat, and very few could. At just 24, Hunt had already secured an amazing legacy as one of the greats of professional tennis. He won national titles in the boys, juniors, collegiate and professional tournaments, and in 1938 went undefeated in singles and doubles play. In addition to his phenomenal athleticism and skill as a player, Hunt also was handsome, drawing droves of female admirers to his matches. He was well on his way to an unbelievable career, but he had to put it on hold to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Sadly, Feb. 2, 1945, just 16 days short of his 26th birthday, Lt. Joseph Hunt was killed in a training accident off the Florida coast.

After his death, history largely forgot Joe Hunt. To this day, his name rarely comes up in conversations about tennis greats or American sports heroes. That may be about to change, however, thanks to an auspicious find at a garage sale in southern California.

According to reporting by USA Today, a veteran garage sale picker came across one of Hunt's trophies and realized it must have some value. The trophy's journey proved to be an unlikely odyssey, but the trophy soon will be reunited with Hunt's surviving family members at an upcoming tournament, in a special ceremony honoring Hunt.

Read more about Hunt's brief-but-amazing career at USA Today and see the long-lost trophy that's revitalizing his legacy.