Born July 10th, 1943 into a deeply segregated Richmond, Virginia, Ashe grew up with the boundless simple love and care of a family that could offer little more. Ashe had an extremely close relationship with his mother, Mattie, a love expressed not through extravagances of affection or showering of gifts, but through the sharing of time spend reading, listening to music, or simply lounging in the love between a mother and her son.
Arthurs young world was shattered in 1950, when Mattie unexpectedly passed away from complications encountered during surgery. While the relationship between mother and son was predicated on a great deal of love and mutual adoration, she, as well as Arthur senior never failed to raise their son to live as a proper, decent human being ought, with concern and care for others, and unwavering pride and faith in oneself. Ashe himself once said of his family, drummed into me, above all, by my dad, by the whole family, was that without your good name, you would be nothing. This regard for his good name, would inspire him in his later years, not only as a barrier-shattering tennis player, but as an activist and crusader for humanity.