DECEMBER 2, 1968
He made a name for himself on the basketball court. "None of my close friends called me Charlie," says Charles Scott, who became one of the first black scholarship athletes at a major southern college when he joined the North Carolina basketball team as a 6'5" guard in 1967. "Neither did my parents. It was like a stage name." Scott picked up the moniker when Davidson coach Lefty Driesell called him that while recruiting him. The name stuck, especially with members of the media, and Scott earned it through three seasons as a Tar Heel and 10 in the pros.
Now Scott, 52, will help Kwame Brown make his name in the NBA. Scott joined the Washington Wizards in July to serve as a mentor for Brown, pioneering a program that the league hopes to expand. "Kwame has the pressure of being the first pick and the first high school player who was the first pick—and having been drafted by Michael [Jordan] just adds to it," says Scott. "I can relate to that pressure, having been the first black at North Carolina."
It's doubtful any Tar Heels players before him had to deal with being excluded from restaurants because of their skin color or with being the target of racially motivated jeers and threats from fans at other ACC schools. Scott may even have been passed over for some individual awards because of his race, though this could have been been the result of playing for Dean Smith, a coach whose focus was never on one player. Yet Scott still ranks fifth in career scoring at North Carolina, played in two Final Fours and won a gold medal at the '68 Olympics. "Playing basketball," he says, "was the easy part."
Scott kept making things look easy on the court, sharing the ABA's Rookie of the Year award while playing for the Virginia Squires in 1971 and winning an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in '76. After his playing career, he worked as the director of sports marketing at Champion, the sports apparel manufacturer, from 1990 to '97 and then as the executive vice president of CTS, a telemarketing firm. Both companies are based in the Atlanta area, where Charles lives with Trudy, his wife of 15 years, and their three children. Still close to the North Carolina program and Coach Smith, Charles has twice sent sons Shannon, 9, and Shaun, 11, to attend the Tar Heels' basketball camp because he hopes they'll learn the same values he did. "We were taught character, loyalty, perseverance—all these things help you in your daily life," Charles says. "They have a lot to do with how I grew and the person I am today."