T. Boone Pickens

Moving to Amarillo when I was sixteen years old was tough. But playing on the high school basketball team helped me fit in—and taught me a few lessons I’ve never forgotten.
T. Boone Pickens
Pickens, age eighteen, at Amarillo High School in 1947.

I moved to Amarillo from Holdenville, Oklahoma, in 1944, when I was sixteen years old. It was a tough move. I had just found the most beautiful girl in Holdenville, and I didn’t want to leave. But everything came together pretty quickly for me in Texas, and attending Amarillo High became one of the great experiences of my life. I still remember going to an assembly at school and thinking there were more people there than in the entire town I had come from. And as it turns out, I found another beautiful girl, Mary Jo Phillips, who was a neat gal and became my girlfriend.

I loved to play basketball, and I was a pretty good guard. When I was in the eighth grade, I was the manager of the Holdenville team that won the state title, and I was hoping that by the time I got to play varsity, we’d be state champions again. So the most disappointing thing that happened to me when I arrived in Amarillo was that I couldn’t play basketball right away. Back then, Texas had a rule that if you had played outside the state, you were ineligible your first year. I came in as a junior, so I sat out that first season. I joined a city league before I was able

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