Former player remembers impact of longtime basketball coach, youth mentor Charlie Givens

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:15 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Charles “Charlie” Givens, considered by some to be the godfather of basketball in Lexington, has died at the age of 82. Givens dedicated decades to uplifting Lexington youth and gave them an outlet to play basketball.

By all accounts, he made an immeasurable impact on the Lexington community.

“He used his platform to help others gain what they needed to be in successful in life,” said Nimbo Hammons.

Givens was a talented ball player, having played for the ABA’s Carolina Cougars and even the Harlem Globetrotters. But his legacy lies in Lexington, where he spent decades supporting the city’s youth.

“My father was never around, never came to games, never did anything. So I guess he had a bunch of kids because he would pick us up and we were there all day and he made sure we ate and then we went home,” Hammons said.

Hammons said it all started at the Salvation Army. Givens would drive him and countless others to use a homeless shelter within the lodge, pushing beds up against the wall so they could play basketball there all day. And even if they broke the rims, Givens had the solution to keep them playing.

“I’ve seen people break the rim and he would just go in and weld it back up and we’d get back to playing,” Hammons said.

Hammons said Givens was tough on them, but always kept it simple and fun.

“If we were messing around and really not playing up to our abilities, he would call a timeout and he would sit on that bench and he would say ‘shiii, you better start playing,’” Hammons said.

Hammons said Givens’ selfless nature was passed along to those he coached.

Givens inspired Hammons to have his own nonprofit giving kids a chance to play travel basketball.

“My paying back is I try to help younger kids myself, because what he did for me, you can’t put a price on it,” Hammons said.

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