Lorenzo Charles’ famous dunk even ‘thrilled’ Obama

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Seemingly every college hoops fan Lorenzo Charles’ dunk against Houston in the 1983 title game.

Even the First Fan.

Charles, the N.C. State forward who capped the Wolfpack’ title with the game-winning basket in one of the Big Dance’s most famous and most improbable upsets, died last week in a bus crash outside Raleigh, N.C. His funeral Saturday brought out friends and family remembering Charles as a “wonderful” guy who loved “being a part of the N.C. State family.”

They also mentioned that shot once or twice. That’s how it goes when you make a play that’s part of every March highlight.

“Everyone talked to ‘Lo’ about that shot,” N.C. State teammate Ernie Myers told the Raleigh News & Observer, “but he’d hardly talk about it unless someone brought it up first.”

Part of Charles’ post-basketball life was spent driving for Elite Tours, which owned the bus he was driving during last week’s accident. He was a friendly and famous face behind the wheel. And sometimes people wanted to meet that famous face.

From the paper:

In 2008, Charles was assigned to Barack Obama’s entourage on one of his campaign visits to the Triangle. At the airport at day’s end, he was summoned by the Secret Service to have a word with Obama.

According to Charles’ friend Pierce, Obama extended his hand and told Charles he had to meet the man behind that famous dunk, while one of Obama’s assistants took a picture. A White House spokeswoman this week described the president as “thrilled to have met him.”

“He couldn’t get over it,” Pierce said. The future president “was delighted to meet Lo. I don’t think he ever fully understood how much he mattered to people.”

Lorenzo Charles himself may not have been larger than life, but his most famous play certainly was. That’s a legacy worthy of any athlete.

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