High School Janitor Sees Jersey Retired

10:27 PM, Oct 21, 2011   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- There's a man roaming the halls of a local high school and none of the students know who he is.

They might know his name, but what they don't know is the man they see every day pushing a broom and cleaning their toilets is a legend.

Friday night, the janitor, the man who is Smith High School's single greatest athlete, will stand in front of a football stadium full of people and receive an honor more than 30-years overdue.

The humble custodian, Charles Wright, will have his football jersey retired.

Wright is hard to miss.

He stands 6-feet-7-inches tall.

He was an all American in football and basketball at Smith High.

No athlete there had ever done that before, and none has done it since.

"I've never been a bragger, but don't get me wrong inside I'm proud," said Wright. 

Wright is the school's only two sport all-American.

His humble and powerful story that took him from a prized college athlete to his fateful decision to walk away from it all and pick up a broom is nothing short of amazing.

Charles Wright graduated in '75 - - with his eyes on making it big in football or basketball.

But life and an immature decision robbed the rare two-sport all American of that choice.

Welcome to the real world. Let's get out here and work and survive.

Two years into college he got a girl pregnant.

With no money - - he had to come home.

I had to get a job. I had to get some money. And what better place they gave me a chance to do this at Smith High School.

So in 1977, hands that once carried footballs across the goal line and dunked basketballs, started pushing a broom.

"I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that it happened, but I never regretted it after my son was born," shared Wright.

That son became his best friend for 23 years until one tragic day nine years ago.

His son was shot and killed outside a Greensboro store.

"When my son passed away, I thought the whole world stopped,"said Wright. 

But the world around him kept going.

"Although my son passed away, I loved him to death and still do, life goes on, and I couldn't stop."

Over time Charles picked up the pieces and moved forward.

"My dad always told me and my momma always told me don't ever give up," added Wright. 

Once again he looked to his school.

"This is just like home," Wright said looking around the entrance to the school. 

With students willing to listen, he shares the lessons life taught him.

"That's why I try to talk to kids about different things now you know."

Although many barely know his name. 

Freshman getting ready for football practice had no clue their janitor once played football and basketball for their school.

We told them he's the school's only student athlete to become an all American in two sports.

"You can do that too. Just go out and work hard," Wright told them. 

"What he shows them is no matter what you do in life, you do it your best," said Rodney Brewington, Smith High's Head Football Coach. "That's what he does around here."

"I learned my destiny is mine. Anything I do in life I've got to deal with it. I've got to take responsibilities for it," concluded Wright. 

Friday night, destiny will finally find Charles Wright. Smith High School honored him by retiring his #87 football jersey. Wright also served as an honorary captain for the game. He said the ceremony was a thrill.

"I enjoy the opportunity to represent Smith High School. Always will," said Wright. 

Charles Wright, the legend, finally known.


WFMY News 2

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