Charlie Ward

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Charlie Ward
Charlie Ward 1991.jpg
Florida State Seminoles – No. 17
Position Quarterback
Career history
Bowl games
High school Thomas County Central
Personal information
Born: (1970-10-12) October 12, 1970 (age 47)
Thomasville, Georgia
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg)
Career highlights and awards
College Football Hall of Fame (2006)
Basketball career
Career information
NBA draft 1994 / Round: 1 / Pick: 26th overall
Selected by the New York Knicks
Playing career 1994–2005
Position Point guard
Number 21, 17
Career history
19942004 New York Knicks
2004 San Antonio Spurs
2004–2005 Houston Rockets
Career NBA statistics
Points 3,947 (6.3 PPG)
Rebounds 1,648 (2.6 RPG)
Assists 2,539 (4.0 APG)
Stats at

Charlie Ward Jr. (born October 12, 1970) is a retired American professional NBA basketball player, college football Heisman Trophy winner, Davey O'Brien Award winner and a Major League Baseball draftee. Despite his NCAA football success, Ward was one of the very few players who won a Heisman trophy but was not drafted in the NFL draft. He won the College Football National Championship Game with the Florida State University Seminoles. Ward played several years with the New York Knicks and started in the NBA Finals. He was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. An avid tennis player, Ward also displayed his skills at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Tournament in 1994.

Collegiate career[edit]

Ward won the 1993 Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Davey O'Brien Award as a quarterback for Florida State University, and subsequently led the Seminoles to their first-ever National Championship when FSU defeated Nebraska 18–16 in the 1993 Orange Bowl. The Seminoles had suffered their only defeat of the season to a second-ranked Notre Dame team, but their path to the National Championship was cleared a week later when the Irish were upset at home by Boston College. Ward holds the third-largest margin of victory in the history of Heisman trophy balloting, with a 1,622-point difference, third only to O.J. Simpson's 1,750-point win in 1968[1] and Troy Smith's 1,662-point win in 2006. He was also the only Heisman winner to play in the NBA. In 1993, Charlie Ward won the James E. Sullivan Award from the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) as the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States.

Though Ward did not play baseball in college, he was drafted as a pitcher by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 59th round of the 1993 free agent draft and in the 18th round by the New York Yankees in 1994. An avid tennis player, Ward also shone in the Arthur Ashe Amateur Tennis Tournament in 1994.

Ward was a model student-athlete at Florida State. As a senior and captain of the team in 1993, he voluntarily approached Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden about a difficult situation surrounding incoming freshman Warrick Dunn, whose mother, policewoman Betty Smothers, was killed in the line of duty during Dunn's senior year of high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Charlie served as a surrogate big brother to Dunn during the latter's first year in Tallahassee, helping him through a trying time by becoming his roommate and friend. With Ward's help on and off the field, Dunn eventually became one of the better running backs in the country and a first-round NFL draft pick.

Ward also played basketball for four years at Florida State University (FSU). Former teammates included future NBA players Bob Sura, Doug Edwards, and Sam Cassell. His 1993 team made it to the Southeast Regional Final where they lost to Kentucky 106–81 with the winner advancing to the Final Four. Ward's 1992 team made the Sweet Sixteen. He made the game-winning shot in its Metro Conference Tournament Championship game win over Louisville in 1991. Ward still holds FSU basketball records for career steals at 236, steals in one game at 9 and still ranks sixth all-time in assists at 396. He played a shortened season his senior year, joining the basketball team just 15 days after winning the Heisman Trophy. He started 16 games at the point guard position that year, and averaged a college career high of 10.5 points and 4.9 assists for the season.

In his senior year at Florida State, he also served as Student Government Vice-President, after he was asked to run by the Monarchy Party, a student government reform organization.


Football Statistics at FSU
Passing Rushing
1989 0 5 0.0 0 0 1 2 21 10.5 0
1990 Redshirt
1991 5 9 55.6 68 0 0 5 25 5.0 0
1992 204 365 55.9 2,647 22 17 100 504 5.0 6
1993 264 380 69.5 3,032 27 4 65 339 5.2 4
Totals 473 759 62.3 5,747 49 22 172 910 5.3 10
Basketball Statistics at FSU
1990–91 30 81-178 46% 15-48 31% 62-87 71% 239 8.0 89 103 71 8 60
1991–92 28 72-145 50% 22-48 46% 35-66 53% 201 7.2 90 122 75 6 74
1992–93 17 49-106 46% 16-50 32% 18-27 67% 132 7.8 45 93 48 5 36
1993–94 16 61-167 37% 21-83 25% 25-40 63% 168 10.5 39 78 44 2 42
Totals 91 263-596 44% 74-229 32% 140-220 64% 740 8.1 263 396 238 21 212


Professional career[edit]

Upon graduation, Ward stated he was undecided about professional basketball or football and made it clear that he would not consider playing in the NFL unless selected in the first round of the 1994 NFL Draft. Ward proclaimed that he "deserved to" be a first-rounder.[3] Ward’s mother reported that the family was told he "was probably a third- to fifth-round pick."[4] Because teams did not want to waste a first-round pick on a player that might eventually choose the NBA, and because of his smaller stature, Ward was not selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Instead of pursuing a career as a football player in the NFL, and having been chosen in the 1st round (26th overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, he began his career in the NBA as a point guard. An inquiry was made during Ward's rookie year with the Knicks for him to become the backup quarterback for Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs, but Ward declined. To this day, Ward is the only Heisman Trophy winner to play in the NBA.

Ward played sparingly in his rookie year under head coach Pat Riley, but the Knicks organization referred to him as "the point guard of the future." When assistant coach Jeff Van Gundy took over the head coaching position, Ward's time on the floor began to increase, becoming the primary backup for point guard Derek Harper. He became a fan favorite in New York for his hard work ethic and unselfish play. During his NBA career, Ward established himself as a good three-point shooter, a reliable ball distributor, and a respected floor leader. Ward was selected to participate in the 1998 NBA All-Star three-point competition, finishing fourth in the event. He soon helped the Knicks reach the 1999 NBA Finals before falling to the San Antonio Spurs. Ward was traded to the Phoenix Suns in February 2004 as part of the blockbuster trade that brought Stephon Marbury to the Knicks and was promptly cut by the Suns for salary purposes. Ward spent the remainder of the season with the Spurs and signed a contract with the Houston Rockets the following summer. After maintaining relatively good health over his first decade in the league, injuries caused Ward to miss most of the 2004–05 season. Because of his injuries Ward retired.

During his time with the Knicks, Ward was often called the "best quarterback in New York" due to the struggles that the New York Jets and New York Giants had at the position.[5][6]

Off the court, Ward became known for his extensive charitable work through groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In 2011, at the NCAA Final Four, Ward received the John Wooden Keys to Life award given for continued excellence and integrity on and off the court.

Ward established The aWard Foundation to enhance the lives of young people through sports based mentoring and educational programs.[7]


In Game 5 of the 1997 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Miami Heat, with the Knicks holding a 3–1 series lead, Ward tried to box out P. J. Brown. When he tried to get inside after the free throw shot, Brown got frustrated, then retaliated by lifting Ward up and body-slamming him. This caused a bench-clearing brawl to ensue. After Miami won the game 96–81, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, and Ward himself, were suspended by the NBA. Ewing, Houston, Johnson, and Starks left the bench during the brawl, which was why they got suspended. Brown was suspended for the rest of the series; Ewing, Ward and Houston were suspended for Game 6, and Johnson and Starks were suspended for Game 7. Due to the suspensions, the Knicks were shorthanded and lost Games 6 and 7 to Miami 95–90 and 101–90, respectively, failing to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami would go on to lose to the Chicago Bulls in five games.

In 2001, while playing for the Knicks, it was discovered that Ward had made disparaging comments about Jews during a Bible-study session, comments that were eventually leaked to the press. Among the comments made: "Jews are stubborn...tell me, why did they persecute Jesus unless He knew something they didn’t want to accept...They had His blood on their hands."[8]

There was outrage directed at Ward from Jewish groups, the public, as well as the Knicks organization itself. Ward defended himself by saying "I didn't mean to offend any one group because that's not what I'm about. I have friends that are Jewish. Actually, my friend is a Jewish guy, and his name is Jesus Christ."[8] He also said the quotes were taken out of context, as he stated that "Jews are stubborn" in speaking to what he perceived to be their disinclination to convert to Christianity.[9]

Ward eventually apologized for those statements, with his apology being accepted by the Anti-Defamation League.[10]


  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Career NBA Statistics
1994–95 NY 10 4-19 21% 1-10 10% 7-10 70% 16 1.6 6 4 2 0 8
1995–96 NY 62 87-218 40% 33-99 33% 37-54 69% 244 3.9 102 132 54 6 79
1996–97 NY 79 133-337 40% 48-154 31% 95-125 76% 409 5.2 220 326 83 15 147
1997–98 NY 82 235-516 46% 81-215 38% 91-113 81% 642 7.8 274 466 144 37 175
1999[a] NY 50 135-334 40% 53-149 36% 55-78 71% 378 7.6 172 271 103 8 131
1999–2000 NY 72 189-447 42% 102-264 39% 48-58 83% 528 7.3 228 300 95 16 102
2000–01 NY 61 155-373 42% 67-175 38% 56-70 80% 433 7.1 159 273 70 10 112
2001–02 NY 63 113-303 37% 53-164 32% 47-58 81% 326 5.2 127 203 68 14 75
2002–03 NY 66 165-414 40% 101-267 38% 41-53 77% 472 7.2 177 306 78 11 95
2003–04 NY-SA 71 160-390 41% 84-206 41% 20-27 74% 424 6.0 144 215 64 11 96
2004–05 HOU 14 24-77 31% 16-51 31% 11-13 85% 75 5.4 39 43 15 0 18
Totals 630 1,400-3,428 41% 639-1,754 36% 508-659 77% 3,947 6.3 1,648 2,539 776 128 1,038


  1. ^ Lockout-shortened season; all games that season took place in 1999

Personal life[edit]

Ward is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.[12] He and his wife Tonja have three children: Caleb, Hope, and Joshua.[13][14] In June 2007, Ward was hired as an assistant coach for the varsity boys basketball team by Westbury Christian School in Houston, Texas, having passed on many professional sports opportunities. He was previously an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets. In addition, in November 2007, he accepted the job as head coach for the varsity football team at Westbury Christian School, stating that his desire is to help prepare young minds for Christ.[15] In February 2014, it was announced that Ward accepted the head coaching position at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida, where his son Caleb would be attending and playing football.As of March 8, 2018, Charlie is the Ambassador of Football for Florida State University. In March of 2018, Charlie became the Head Boy's Basketball Coach for the Florida State University's Developmental Research School, "Florida High", in Tallahassee, Florida. Currently Florida High's Boy's Basketball program has improved since Ward's arrival.


  1. ^ Heisman Trophy Archived April 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Charlie Ward". Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Charlie Still Ward-ing Off NFL Talk". New York Daily News. December 10, 1995. [permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Charlie Ward". CNN. May 30, 1994. 
  5. ^ "Ward's playoff-high lifts Knicks to win". Deseret News. Associated Press. May 15, 2000. Archived from the original on June 23, 2016. 
  6. ^ Mike Bruton (December 11, 1994). "Was Color A Consideration When The Nfl Snubbed Ward? "All I Know Is, They Didn't Give Me An Opportunity And The Nba Did," Last Year's Heisman Winner Said". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved June 23, 2016. 
  7. ^ D'Agostino, Dennis. "Charlie's Community Mission". Archived from the original on 2012-11-10. 
  8. ^ a b "jamming jews". 
  9. ^ "PRO BASKETBALL; Ward Refers Writers to Bible". 22 April 2001 – via 
  10. ^ "ADL Accepts Apology of New York Knicks Player Charlie Ward; Stresses Importance of Education - Press Release". Archived from the original on 2006-04-21. 
  11. ^ "Charlie Ward". Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 2015-03-17. 
  13. ^ Kutz, Jerry. "Ward alive and well in Houston, Helping shape boys to men". Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  14. ^ Lee Gordon. "FSU QBs: Where Are They Now?". Tallahassee Magazine. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Rockets' assistant coach Ward named high school assistant coach June 14, 2007

External links[edit]