Before he was found dead on Jan. 27, former N.C. State basketball standout Charles Shackleford had been living in Kinston for about a year and had four children – two girls in college, one boy in high school and one girl in middle school. He did not have a job, but his sister, Sharron Moten, said he spent a lot of time at a local church and was attempting to begin a basketball program for Kinston adolescents.
Moten said members of the church saw Shackleford at the noon service helping distribute food the day before he died.
“Everybody who saw him were saying they hadn’t seen him look that content and peaceful before,” Moten said.
At a Feb. 4 memorial service for Shackleford in Kinston, Pastor John Flowers of the Church of Faith & Deliverance said he heard Shackleford referred to as a “son of Kinston,” but said he came to know Shackleford as a “son of Kinston and son of God,” someone who cared deeply for his family.
Among those attending the service at the Kinston High School Performing Arts Center was Chris Washburn, a former N.C. State teammate.
“I found out in his later days here that he made some big changes,” Washburn said. “We both had some challenges, some peaks and some valleys in our careers and life, but he was doing well.”
At N.C. State, Shackleford known for his immense basketball talent but also his off-court troubles. He helped N.C. State win an ACC title in 1987 – the program’s last ACC crown. Shackleford, an All-ACC forward in 1988, later spent six seasons in the NBA and was, to Wolfpack fans, the original “Shack.”
But he also was at the center of the program-wide turmoil that led to former coach Jim Valvano’s ouster in 1990.
Shackleford was arrested several times on drug-related charges. In 2010, he was accused in Kinston of selling prescription drugs to an undercover deputy during a sting operation. He reportedly had no assets left from his time playing in the NBA, and a court-appointed attorney was assigned to him. The charges were dismissed, according to court reports, for lack of evidence.
Shackleford’s autopsy was released Monday by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
He died of an enlarged heart. No drugs contributed to Shackleford’s death, according to the autopsy.
Shackleford, 50, was found dead at his home on Rouse Road on the morning of Jan. 27, according to Kinston Police Department spokesman Woody Spencer. Police and the medical examiner’s office said there was no foul play.
The autopsy lists the cause of death as “cardiomegaly,” or an enlarged heart, along with left ventricular hypertrophy, the most common type of hypertrophic heart disease.
The autopsy said Shackleford was found dead in his bathroom “after an apparent sudden collapse.” The auto said Shackleford had some abrasions and lacerations but those were attributed to his collapse “in an enclosed space.”
Chris Cioffi contributed.