Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Louisiana D-1 Ambassador and Beau Chene Star Joseph Charles: Overcoming Adversity Against All Odds

Highlights are from the 2009 River City Showdown at the University of Memphis Finch Center
and the 2009 Memphis Select Classic IV Tournament which both stretched from July 9-15

By Larry Young
The Daily Advertiser

Take a long, hard look at the 5-foot-9 kid playing starting point guard for Beau Chene high school. Watch him play.

Observe how he flies up and down the court with free will, often generating a fire-like spark his teammates feed off. How he scores, penetrates and passes with ease.

Then imagine that two years ago, in a matter of minutes, all that was almost stripped away from him.

You'd never know that same kid, Joseph Charles, is fresh off the road of recovery from a two and a half year break, which almost ended his basketball career.

How'd it happen?

One October night, Charles was headed to Beau Chene to watch the game he loves most — basketball.

Minutes later, a serious car accident leaving him with a punctured lung, among other injuries derailed those plans. He never made it.

The repercussions from the accident left the then high school sophomore with two choices. He could either spend seven months in a halo, which would help his neck heal. Or risk surgery, a move that could have potentially left him paralyzed from the neck down.

Charles chose the halo. In turn, the decision helped the speedy guard make a swift recovery and avoid neck surgery.

He said his time in the halo provided him some much needed time to get things right.

"Sitting in the halo made me think what I wanted to do with life," Charles said. "I got back in school, started hitting the books and playing basketball."

Charles' comeback bid has been nothing short of his signature style on the basketball court: hard and fast. But it wasn't always that way.

At one point during his recovery, Charles said he had given up. He didn't want to play basketball anymore. Then, one day, he picked up a ball and played around.

Jumpers began to fall. Charles noticed he still had it.

From there the rest is history.

"I just got back on court and started working hard again," Charles said.
It was during this time he thought of all the trips he made to watch Beau Chene basketball games when he was unable to play. During that seven-month span, he watched and began plotting his return.

Why Beau Chene?

"All my family members came here," Charles said. "When my uncle (Kentrail Charles) was here he brought them to the top 28, so I'm trying to do it again."

Before enrolling at Beau Chene at the beginning of the school year, Charles spent his freshman year at Carencro, before transferring to Acadiana Prep midway through his sophomore year.

Then, the car accident came just months before he was to first suit up for Acadiana Prep. He never played there.

"It just made me realize that I shouldn't take things in life for granted," Charles said. "Life's short. You have to go at it and get it."

Since then he's lived by those words.

And first year Gators coach Roy Young is satisfied with his floor general. He said he is fortunate to have the levelheaded senior. He also tabbed him the team's scoring and emotional leader.

"The fact that I was new and he was new probably benefited both of us," said Young, who neither knew Charles nor had any knowledge of his accident before this school year.

"Technically the only basketball he's had the past few years is AAU ball. That's a totally different game. That's the biggest transition he's had to make. I think he's making it fairly well."

Take another long, hard look. It's safe to say he's making it fairly well.

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