Born: July 22, 1964
Town: Jersey City, New Jersey
Rafael Addison was born July 22, 1964 in Jersey City. Tall and gangly as a kid, he never lost his quickness or coordination as he grew toward his final height of 6’7”. In 1979, Rafael enrolled at Snyder High School. He was a star in the classroom and on the court, at one point rated the top prep basketball player in Hudson County. Rafael also was picked as a McDonald’s All-American and was honored at the White House, where he met President Ronald Reagan. As a senior, Rafael led the Tigers to the state championship.
Rafael’s ball handling ability enabled him to play guard, creating height mismatches for opposing defenders. His quickness and shooting touch as a forward also gave enemy defenders nightmares. These advantages actually became ore pronounced as a collegian. After playing as a Sixth Man for coach Jim Boeheim his freshman year, he became a starter his final three seasons. As a sophomore in 1983–84, he teamed with Pearl Washington to lead the Orangemen to 23 wins and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. Rafael scored 31 points in the opening-round game against UConn. He got into foul trouble in a loss to Georgetown, ending Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament run.
Rafael improved his shooting and rebounding as a junior and led the team in scoring with 18.4 points per game. Along with Washington and freshman center Rony Seikaly, he helped the Orangemen win 22 games. However they fell to Mark Price and Georgia Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Rafael moved from forward to guard as a senior and despite nagging injuries, he was second on the team in assists and third in scoring and rebounds. Syracuse started 13–0 and finished with 26 wins, but once again bowed out early in the tournament, falling to David Robinson and Navy. Rafael graduated with 1,876 points, at the time second most in school history to Dave Bing. He was second-team All-Big East as a sophomore and senior, and first-team as a junior.
Rafael was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1986. He spent one season as a backup to forward Mike Sanders. In 1987–88 he took his game to Italy, where he became an All-Star. Rafael returned to the NBA in 1991 and played with the Nets, Pistons and Hornets. His final season was 1996–97. He played another year in Europe before returning to New Jersey to coach and teach at Snyder High. He went on to earn a Masters in special education at Kean University and continued to teach in the Jersey City public school system.
In 2000, he was elected to Syracuse’s All-Century Team. Rafael’s daughter Ashley became a star for the Hanover Park High and helped the Hornets win a state title in 2008 and was Morris County Player of the Year in 2009. Rafael was a volunteer assistant coach for the team.