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Former UK basketball player Charles Hurt dies at age 55

Charles Hurt with Coach Joe. B. Hall. He had leukemia, according to former Wildcat Jack Givens and Hall.
Charles Hurt with Coach Joe. B. Hall. He had leukemia, according to former Wildcat Jack Givens and Hall. Herald-Leader file photo

Charles “Atlas” Hurt, who scored 786 points in 124 games with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, died Friday. He was 55.

Hurt died after undergoing a stem-cell surgery some weeks ago for treatment of leukemia, former UK player Jack “Goose” Givens and former UK coach Joe B. Hall said.

“According to his mom, it went very well, and they thought it was very positive,” Givens said. “He got better, actually, but obviously it didn’t do what it was supposed to do. ... They had tried a number of other procedures, and after a long battle he fought it hard, but it just didn’t work.”

“I talked to him about three days ago, and I talked to his mother, and they were going to call me when he could have visitors,” Hall said. “But then I got word he’d passed away.”

Hall said Hurt “was from an excellent family. They were very gracious people, and they were very supportive of their children. They were absolutely the finest people in the world, and Charles reflected that in everything that he did. He was a wonderful kid to coach.”

Hurt, who was from Shelby County, played for UK from 1979-80 through the 1982-83 seasons. He averaged 8.2 points as a senior and 6.6 points as a junior.

Givens didn’t play with Hurt at Kentucky, but they were friends through their association with the school.

“That body of his, every guy would dream to have,” Givens said. “He was put together in a way that not many guys were. He had those great shoulders that every guy would like to have.

“But the main thing is, Charlie was always a gentleman,” Givens said. “He played the game the way it was supposed to be played. He played hard. No one outworked Charlie Hurt.

“He wasn’t the most talented player, especially on offense,” Givens added. “But boy, I tell you, he made up for it going up for rebounds. He got his points the old-fashioned way, he earned them, by getting offensive rebounds and dunking on people. Charlie was a super guy, and it was good to have known him.”

Hurt was picked by Milwaukee in the sixth round of the 1983 NBA draft. Later he played basketball in Japan and worked at other less-than-satisfying jobs for a few years, then joined the Army in 1987.

He was a career military man. He lived in Germany, Kuwait and Korea and became an information systems chief. In 1990, as a member of the 82nd Airborne Army unit, he was in Saudi Arabia as part of the Army’s intelligence force.

In 2012, he became an assistant basketball coach at Shelby County.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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