This Story Has a Hook (Actually, a Million of Them)
People of CLT, meet Hook Shot Charlie. After a 30+ year in corporate America, he dropped the tie, picked up a basketball and never looked back. Some might say it’s madness!
How did a hook shot turn into your legacy?
I began playing basketball games around Charlotte, as well as in Raleigh, when my two children were attending NC State. When I would visit, I would play at all the YMCAs in the area—the students heard about my throws and started calling me Hookshot Charlie.
The hook shot is more than a hook shot for you. How so?
After playing in games, I realized what I needed was something more meditative, more peaceful, serene. I started throwing hook shots alone—just me and the ball. And what transpired was a spiritual and mental lift. No arguments. No stress. I then took it further by taking the things out of my life that I didn’t have control of.
How many tries does it take for you to make a hook shot?
One. It’s funny how people who watch me expect me to miss. Others actually hope it takes me more tries!
Amazing! How many hook shots have you made to date?
Over 1,000,000 hook shots over seven years! I write every shot down in a journal.
Your dedication and discipline are commendable.
Thank you. When Wilson Basketball heard about me, they sent me a ball with a chip in it to keep track of my baskets. However, I still use my journal to record all the throws and baskets.
How would you describe yourself?
If you want to know who I am, ask someone else. I try to live a life where others only have positive things to say about me.
What’s your life vision? Any big goals or dreams?
Inspire. Engage. And live a life that would be pleasing to God. I would love to be the face of a product, reflecting the loyalty and trustworthiness that I have shown to every employer. When I commit, I commit.
Where were you working before you were working out on the courts?
Banking, for 23 years! At the time, I loved working. Family was my main responsibility. When I turned 50, I quit. My spiritual world came forward as I put my trust in God. I asked myself, what are you going to learn?
So, you went from cubicles to the courts soon afterwards? From what it sounds like, you’ve aged backwards!
[I hit the courts] the very next day! I bought a basketball and headed to the Dowd YMCA and started playing 3-4 hours a day. I’m still on the courts seven days a week.
After I quit my job, I did things to push me out of my comfort zone: I became an extra for TV and film and appeared in Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural and a Hallmark Channel movie. It was a nice chance to meet people, to push myself. I feel like a kid again!
What were you like when you were a kid?
Shy. Laidback. Very private. I didn’t like any attention on me.
Well, that certainly doesn’t describe a hook shot!
The hook shot is a showy shot, but I don’t do it to be showy. I just stopped being afraid.
It wasn’t scary to quit your job at age 50?
For the first five years, I didn’t work and you know what, I never worried. I lived by the principle: give to others what I wish to receive. Acknowledge others. Engage more.
What event inspired you to connect more intentionally?
My best friend and roommate from my days at Wingate University unexpectedly passed away. Prior to his passing we never had any reunions. That changed. I began getting a group of us together and after four years, the school formed a chapter with Wingate’s President Dr. Rhett Brown’s support.
Advice for today’s youth?
I ask kids, “What do you want to do… Then do that and practice, a lot!”
After asking this question to a boy, he answered “sleep!” While it’s funny, you never know how he will end up contributing to the world. Maybe he will be a sleep specialist!
It sounds like you find fulfillment in encouraging others!
I do! I am a mentor—I use basketball to mentor youth, as well as my peers (I always say it’s never too late). During the summers, I have been involved with camps at the Dowd and Johnston YMCA locations.
I mentored my barber’s son in trade for haircuts. But that’s the most I have ever accepted—I want to give back. When I mentor kids, I meet them where they are to guide them vs. forcing them into a place they are not ready for. I used the same approach as a father.
What’s your approach towards community issues?
While I can’t affect big government, locally I can get involved to make a difference—like in affordable housing initiatives, transit, and speaking to law enforcement and influencers.
And now for the Final Four (sorry, couldn’t help it)…
What motivates you to keep putting yourself out there?
With every opportunity, you learn something. For example, after the throwing hook shots during the halftime show at Rocky River High School, I learned to always warm up in another gym beforehand. Preparation is always key… for anything you do.
Any halftime shows coming up in March?
I have been invited to Chapel Hill to do a halftime show!
Have you ever thrown a hook shot with any big names?
Yes, with Anthony Hamilton (singer, songwriter, producer) at the NC Music Hall of Fame. He was outside. I said hello. We talked. I threw a hook shot. And the rest is history.
Where does it all go down?
Watch Hook Shot Charlie in Action!
Still hungry? Take a few more bites.
Dig into more about Mai Lis and People of Charlotte: Web | IG
Photo Credit: Blaise Photography
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