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 carried 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."
August 12, 2001
"Playing basketball," Scott (center on cover) says, alluding to
discrimination he faced in college, "was the easy part."