L.B. PANTHER AND ENTREPRENEUR  FOUND LASTING LOVE

Edward Williams

James Hardy, former USF star power forward and New Orleans top 1978 selection, found love, became a successful businessman, an owner of a mid-size trucking company.


LONG BEACH -- Catherine McLamb grew up in the Carmelitos Housing Projects, a place many people in North Long Beach, in the 1970s, called the “Bricks.’’  She met James Percivell Hardy, who died from a heart attack on Dec. 29 at age 64, when he was 13 years old.  At 8, she used to be at the Hardy’s house visiting family members more than her own home. She was considered a goddaughter.    Hardy, who became a high school basketball phenom, thought of her as a little sister.  Later, the 1975 Parade All-American, went on to play college basketball at the University of San Francisco, the New Orleans Jazz (now Utah), and overseas.  He got married and had children. She did, too.  

     In 2009, they found love.  He had traveled all over the world looking for a lady who could make him a happy home.McLamb had been there all the time. The couple got married and blended their families. He raised her children as if they were his own. “James always wanted to have a family,’’ McLamb said. “We have always been in contact with each other. He was finally able to get back to his true love.“He used to tell people, ‘I married my sister’,’’ she fondly recalled.

By this time, the 6-foot-8 power forward, who given fans at each stop a highlight shows, had retired from professional basketball in 1990. He returned to the Utah area. There, he worked for trucking companies, serving as drivers and later trainers.

  In 1997, Hardy founded the MARCO INC., a trucking company that he eventually expanded to five trucks and five trailers. McLamb became his wife and business partner.  Catherine said he logged 170,000 miles per year.   

  “He drove his own trucks and trailers from coast to coast. He loved the freedom that his job gave him, traveling the United States in his mobile office with the best views of God’s creations.    

   “He still had big dreams of taking the company to a higher level, a vision of creating opportunities for others who also shared his passion for driving big rigs,’’ she continued. “He began purchasing and leasing semi-trucks and trailers to other drivers who needed assistance with getting started in their own business.’’   

   Hardy was born to Emma Ruth and James Hardy on Dec. 1, 1956, in Knoxville, Ala. Unfortunately, two years later, Emma passed.  By age 11, James Percivell Hardy and his father had moved to the Long Beach area. Later, he attended Franklin Jr. High on the Eastside.

   Instead of attending Poly High, and being a part of the Jackrabbits’ sports dynasty, he enrolled at Jordan High. What changed?  During this time, his father had fallen in love. 

   He married Willie Maybell. They had children together, and Maybell loved James Percivell like she had given birth to him. Hardy loved his mother dearly, too.  

   In fact, he was generous. He helped family members as much as he could. Driving big rigs gave him the freedom to see the country and relatives. “He lived his life around the world,’’ McLamb said. “He lived life his way. ”  

   James Precivell Hardy was preceded in death by his birth mother Emma Ruth Hardy, father James Hardy, brother Freddie Hardy, and brother-in-law, Tiran Walker Sr. In addition to Catherine and stepmother Willie Mae Maybell, Hardy is survived by his children: Jennifer Paula Hardy, James Michael Hardy and Emma Claire Hardy, Sharrod, Dontae, Shanecca, Mario, Tanisha, Danish, Yohance; mother Willie Maybell (Union Springs, Ala.); siblings Joyce Addison (Union Springs Ala.); James Lester Hardy (Washington State): Johnette Smith (Titus) Modesto, Calif.; Jacqueline Walker (Modesto, Calif.), and a host of family and friends.