It was one of the most memorable shots in NCAA Tourney history, thanks to North Carolina State’s Lorenzo Charles. He was dubbed a hero after making a buzzer beating dunk that gave the Wolfpack a win over the Houston Cougars, the favorite to win the 1983 championship game. Sadly, the 47-year-old was killed Monday afternoon in a bus crash in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Charles was a bus driver for Elite Coach Company and was reportedly on his way to Durham to pick up some passengers when the bus he was driving went off the road. Details of the crash are scant, and the police have not been forthcoming with information related to the accident. Charles was the only one on board at the time of the crash. In photos and video of the crash site, the windshield was broken and tree limbs could be seen sticking out from the frame of the window. According to a company spokesperson for Elite, to their knowledge Charles had no medical issues.
It was the very last seconds of the game when Dereck Whittenburg sent a 30 footer off to the basket, Charles grabbed the missed shot and dunked the ball in the last second, giving NC the win, 54-52, over the University of Houston. Head coach Jimmy Valvano could be seen running onto the court in disbelief, trying to find someone to hug, an image that is forever a part of NCAA history.
Whittenburg spoke to ESPN about his friend and former teammate:
“It’s a terrible day for the ’83 team, a terrible day. He’s just a positive, a warm spirit. On the court, he never smiled. He was a competitor. He was tough and all that. Off the court, he was a gentle giant. Man, he came with that bubbly smile.”
Charles would later be drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, played for them one season, before moving on to international ball, playing for Arexons Cantu and Irge Desio, both teams from Italy.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Charles’ family and friends. As more information regarding the accident becomes available, we will update this post. RIP…