Renamed garden celebrates legacy of local sporting hero

A public garden will be renamed after an inspirational local figure who helped change the lives of hundreds through sport. 

Joe White Gardens, named after the successful basketball player and coach raised in Hackney, will replace the former Aske Gardens. The renaming is part of a wider review into the names of local landmarks, streets, buildings and public spaces in Hackney to ensure they reflect the borough’s diverse history.

Joe White (1962-2002) grew up in Hackney, forging a successful career as a professional basketball player and representing Team GB, before becoming one of the most successful youth coaches in UK basketball history, winning 14 national schools titles and 18 national club titles.

In the process he developed some of the country’s best players, two of which went on to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics, coaching many more that achieved professional careers.

His name will replace Robert Aske (1619-1689), an investor in the Royal African Company, which between 1672 and 1731, transported 187,697 enslaved people on company-owned ships to English colonies in the Americas, 20% of whom died on the journey. 

Joe White Gardens is the second public space to be renamed through suggestions by the Hackney Naming Hub, launched in November 2020 as part of the Council’s anti-racism programme. In November 2021, Kit Crowley Gardens became the new name for the former Cassland Road Gardens.

My family and I would like to thank Hackney Council for honouring Joe in recognition of his achievements and commitment to supporting Hackney’s young people.

Claire White, Widow of Joe White
Dawn Carter-McDonald, Interim Chief Executive

Naming the gardens after Joe White celebrates a Hackney resident whose contribution to the lives of young black men in the 80s and 90s remains a positive inspiration to the community. Joe’s legacy can be measured through the many hundreds of lives he changed through sport. His lessons went beyond the court and equipped a generation of young inner city people to succeed. This park with its provision of sport facilities through tennis and basketball courts is a fitting tribute to Joe and his family.

Dawn Carter-McDonald, Interim Chief Executive

A community event to unveil an information board detailing the park's name change and the legacy of Hackney's Joe White will take place in the Spring of 2024.

A crowdfund campaign has been set up to raise funds to enable the public release of Big Joe, a documentary film about Joe White. If you would like to help support the project, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/big-joe-doc