Remembering Lorenzo Charles

We are deeply saddened to hear the news of NC State basketball hero Lorenzo Charles’s passing. He made the game-winning dunk in the legendary 1983 NCAA Championship game. Tim Peeler reflects on Charles’s life and contributions at This excerpt illustrates how Charles’s major moment and humble character still impacts the game today:

“It was kind of a David and Goliath thing,” Charles remembered some 20 years after the famous play.

Charles grew stronger and bigger during his final two years for Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack, earning first-team All-ACC and All-America honors his senior season. He was taken with the 41st pick of the 1985 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks and played professionally in the NBA and overseas for more than a decade.

When he retired, he returned to Wake Forest, N.C., where he became a bus driver for various transportation companies in the Triangle. Monday, he was driving a bus for Elite Coach of Apex, N.C. According to reports, there were no passengers on the bus and no other injuries were reported in the accident.

Charles was a regular at NC State basketball games after he returned to the Triangle, usually taking a seat behind the team bench. He always smiled and listened to every fan who had the nerve to tell him exactly what they were doing when he scored the dunk that made him famous.

Yet Charles always maintained he was in the wrong place at the right time on the iconic play.

Read the rest of Peeler’s moving tribute to Charles.

Tim Peeler is co-author with Roger Winstead of NC State Basketball: 100 Years of Innovation, which devotes an entire chapter to that miraculous postseason run of which Lorenzo Charles was such an important part.  He will never be forgotten, and that moment of victory is one that strikes awe in every college basketball fan, making us all disregard any team loyalty we might have.  We can all replay the footage from that buzzer moment in our heads; whether we were alive to witness it or not, it is an iconic, magic moment in sports history.  More information on the tragic accident can be found at the News & Observer.  We lost a great sports hero and an even greater person far too soon.