'He was a father figure to a lot of us': Remembering the legacy of Charlie Givens

Posted at 7:17 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 19:20:19-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Charles ‘Charlie’ Givens became a major role model for young men and women growing up in Lexington over the years.

“I loved him unconditionally the same way he loved all of us,” said Othello Bell.

Givens passed away on Sept. 22 at 82 years old.

Bell said he met Givens when he was a young boy. Givens coached basketball at the Salvation Army.

“Salvation Army was the village and he was the village leader,” Bell said. “He was a father figure to a lot of us. Losing him is like losing a part of yourself.”

Gerry Cloyd said Givens’ constant presence gave him and his friends growing up a role model to look up to and a person to depend on.

“He’ll always stay in my heart,” Cloyd said. “He let me know, ‘Hey, you got this. You have all the tools to be able to accomplish this mission.’”

Whether it was dropping kids off after basketball practice, paying for a fee so a child could play sports one year, or simply lending an ear, Givens was always willing to donate his time.

“He had a heart to serve,” said Marcus Underwood. “A lot of these kids end up falling into these pitfalls on the street because when they were younger they felt like nobody cared. Charlie tried to fill those gaps.”

Underwood is the pastor at Greater Liberty Baptist Church where Givens served as a deacon for more than 35 years.

He said Givens’ impact on Lexington reaches farther than many realize.

“He’s helped hundreds, if not thousands of kids,” Underwood said. “In today’s society, we need more Charlie Givens. Those who are willing to just step in and step up. I think our community would be a better place.”

Underwood said Givens inspired those he mentored to give back to their own communities.

Cloyd is an example of that.

He coaches a youth football team in southern Kentucky.

“I try to mirror everything he did with my kids now, like structure, backbone, and communication,” Cloyd said. “I try to help the parents who need help. Just like he did for us.”

“And I think that that is his legacy. That is the trail that he has blazed and I think that will live on for years and decades to come,” Underwood said.