Friends, family remember Lorenzo Charles

RALEIGH Charles, 47, was killed Monday when a charter bus he was driving crashed on I-40.

No one else was on the bus, owned by Elite Coach in Apex.

Charles is perhaps best known for making the game-winning dunk for the Wolfpack in the 1983 NCAA Championship game.

During the funeral service, friends and family remembered Charles as a gracious and selfless man.

"He was a gentle guy, he was a loving guy," said Cozell McQueen, a longtime friend and teammate at N.C. State. "He loved his family, loved his friends. He was a very, very loyal man. If he could help someone, he would try to reach out and do the best he could."

"He stood by us with a quiet strength that made us all proud," said Bill Chamberlain, also a longtime friend."To know him as a is one's how we remember him. But as a man, he was a true soldier. He stood close and tight with his friends. If you knew him, he would never let you down.

In one of the lighter moments of the service, former teammate and friend Derrick Whittenberg described both a love for, and fear of, Charles.

"Lorenzo as a sophomore came into his own," Whittenberg said. "He was confident, he got himself in great shape. He was 6' 8" and 230 pounds of muscle. When he knocked on my door, and said, 'Yo Whitt...we need to make a McDonald's run,'...he'd look at me and say 'I ain't got no money, can you take care of me?' I didn't even hesitate."

N.C. State head basketball coach Mark Gottfried and athletic director Debbie Yow also spoke at the service.

"For a brief moment here just in the last few weeks, I feel like I got to know a great man who had great qualities about him as a person," said Gottfried.

"I personally pray for the comfort of the holy spirit during this time of loss," said Yow, fighting back tears. "And on behalf of the entire Wolfpack family, including thousands of fans across the world, literally, I thank you for sharing Lorenzo with us. Go Pack."

One of the final speakers was Lorenzo Charles' niece, Ericka.

"I lost an uncle and a friend," she said. "I'll miss his big smiles, his huge laughs, and his funny jokes. Like one time, when I asked him if he drove anyone famous, he said, 'of course I have.' I asked him who. He said - Lorenzo Charles."

The service concluded with an acknowledgment of condolences, life legacy, musical selection, and words of comfort from Pastor J. Jasper Wilkins, Jr.

A Catholic graveside service followed at Oakwood Cemetary, where Charles was buried near legendary coach Jim Valvano.

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