High School and College Athletes see their seasons and careers Interrupted/Stopped/Halted:It has happened before and it happened to “Choo Choo” Charlie Justice(UNC All-American Football Player)

This piece/post is on “Choo Choo” Charlie Justice, the All-American running back for the North Carolina Tar Heels, back in the day…Justice was from Asheville High School and he was on his way to Duke, but later ended up at UNC-Chapel Hill, and how he got there, plus the time he lot in-between, is the story that Scott Fowler, from the Charlotte Observer is looking at here today…Check all out below, and if you want to see the photos the full article, CLICK HERE…We are just giving you a taste, with what we have printed here…Hit that Click On above, to get it all….Scott Fowler, from the Charlotte Observer, by way of Twitter, coming in to us…

For many athletes in 2020, the games have been interrupted.

Spring sports stopped in March due to COVID-19. North Carolina high school football won’t start until February 2021. Close to half of the FBS college football programs around the country won’t play in the fall.

But sports aren’t always played in a straight line, and sometimes, it still works out OK. Witness the career of Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice.

One of the most famous football players ever at the University of North Carolina, Justice was a two-time runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, in 1948 and ‘49. He made the cover of Life, with the national magazine rhapsodizing that Justice looked like the actor Rudolph Valentino “made up as Superman.” Fan mail addressed only “Choo Choo, North Carolina” found its way to him.

It wasn’t until a skinny freshman from Wilmington — who at the time went by the name Mike Jordan — showed up in Chapel Hill in 1981 that an athlete captured UNC’s imagination as completely as Choo Choo did.

Justice’s own football career was severely delayed — not by a pandemic, but by World War II. He spent three years in the Navy, which was ironic since he never learned to swim.

In 2003, at age 79, Justice died due to dementia and complications from earlier heart issues.

But his only surviving child, a feisty grandmother named Barbara Justice Crews, emailed me recently from her home in Cherryville. She was concerned about the high school and college athletes whose lives are being adversely affected by the coronavirus and wanted to offer some encouragement to them.

“If you research my Dad’s fairy-tale life story,” she wrote, “you will see that he hit a wall like this at the end of his unbelievable high school career. Instead of his entire high school team heading off to Duke, where they all had been recruited to play football, they all marched off to war. Dad thought his dream was over.”

Wait a minute.

Charlie Justice nearly went to Duke, along with his whole high school football team from Asheville? Surely that wasn’t true.

I decided it was time for a drive to Cherryville, where Barbara Justice Crews keeps a storehouse of her late father’s memorabilia and memories.

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