James “Papa” Brewer was born and raised in Maywood, Illinois and was the first notable player to come out of Proviso East High School, one of the most successful high school basketball programs in the country. He led his team to the state championship in 1969 and was unanimously selected as a first-team All-State player and selected as "Mr. Basketball" in Illinois.
At the University of Minnesota, he was a three-time MVP and voted Most Valuable Player of the Big Ten Conference in 1972, and was selected to the 1972 U.S. Olympic Basketball Team, where he co-captained and established a US Olympic team record for total rebounds that stood for more than 20 years. At the Olympics in Munich, The U.S. lost to the Soviet Union in a gold medal game that ended in controversy. Brewer and his teammates opted not to accept the silver medals then, and no participant has asked for his medal to this day.
"We hadn't earned the silver medal," Brewer told national reporters after the game. "We won the gold medal. That's the medal we earned, so why accept something else?"
Brewer was selected as the second overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, spending six season with the Cavs, where he co-captained and helped them win the Central Division Championship in 1976.
Jim played 12 seasons in the professional ranks, including nine years in the NBA and three years in Italy. Jim earned an NBA World Championship ring as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982 along with teammates ”Kareem” Abdul Jabbar and Ervin ”Magic” Johnson.
Jim also had a successful career as an assistant coach, spanning over 20 seasons, starting at Northwestern University, and as a talent scout for the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he advanced to Director of Player Personnel.
Jim also coached with the Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics.
Upon his retirement, Jim returned to Maywood to spend time with his extended family, and to be a part of the community that shaped him.
Jim and his wife Patsy have two adult children.