Those who follow boxing know that longtime boxing broadcaster and sports journalist Nick Charles has been battling bladder cancer the last two years, and that recently, the news that Charles had just weeks to live came down the wire. On March 26, HBO had Mr. Charles on their Boxing After Dark broadcast to call the opening fight between Mikey Garcia and Matt Remillard, one of the classiest gestures you will ever see in the sport of boxing. And today, CNN has a profile and video interview with the broadcaster. Charles established the old "Sports Tonight" show on CNN, where he was a co-anchor for 17 years. The article is well worth reading, as inspiring as it is heartbreaking (same goes for the video), but I took special note of his relationship with Mike Tyson.
The two men speak by phone three or four times a week. They talk about life lessons and philosophize about Aristotle. Tyson has young children, too. He asks about being a good parent.
At a time when Tyson trusted no one, he listened to Charles. "You can break me in two if you want," Charles would say before giving any advice, "but let me throw this out to you."
He told him about his own hard-scrabble life, of longing for a father's love, of the power of forgiveness, of digging deeper to better understand oneself.
Now, as Charles nears death, Tyson is like a sponge.
"He recalls conversations we had," says Charles. "He wants me to amplify it more. He wants to know what I've learned, because I've made mistakes in my life."
"I try not to dwell on the mistakes. You can't undo them. But I do try to fasten onto the positives, the things that drove me."
It's terrible that it has happened this way, but I have to say it's been a pleasure getting to know about what a special, honest, and real person Nick Charles really is.