The sports world is full of athletes talented enough to make a go of it in totally different leagues. Deion Sanders successfully split his time between the NFL and the MLB. Bo Jackson performed the same feat. Michael Jordan famously retired from the NBA in order to pursue a minor league baseball career.
Many other players excel at multiple sports while in high school and college, only to narrow down their focus when the time comes to turn pro. Charlie Ward is the perfect example — a college football champion who went on to pursue a career in the NBA. Here we look back at Ward’s college and professional careers, while investigating what he’s done post-retirement.
Charlie Ward’s college career
Ward spent a full four years playing football at Florida State University from 1989 to 1993. During his freshman season, Ward was a punter, averaging 37.1 yards in his 35 punts. In his sophomore season, Ward moved into a backup quarterback role and saw relatively limited amounts of playing time.
Things changed when Ward moved into the starting quarterback role junior year. He attempted 365 passes, completing 204 of them — good for a 55.9% completion rate. Those numbers only increased the following season, when Ward connected on 264 out of 380 attempts, boosting his completion rate to a stunning 69.5%.
That year Ward ultimately led the Seminoles to a victory in the College Football National Championship, defeating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. In recognition of his strong play, he was awarded the 1993 Heisman Trophy, along with the Maxwell and Davey O’Brien awards.
Charlie Ward’s NBA career
Ward’s college football career becomes even more impressive when you realize that he also played a full four years of basketball during college. At the time of his graduation, he was still undecided about which path he wanted to follow moving forward. He did, however, publicly state that he didn’t want to play in the NFL unless he was drafted in the first round.
That didn’t end up happening, thanks in large part to Ward’s somewhat smaller stature. Yet Ward did succeed in being a first-round draft pick in the NBA.
The New York Knicks selected him with the 26th pick of the 1994 NBA draft. Ward remained with the Knicks, mostly in a backup point guard role, for 9+ years, before finishing out his career with stints with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets.
Ward had career averages of 6.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. He was a solid three-point shooter, with a 36.4% career average. During the 1998-1999 season, Ward helped lead the Knicks all the way to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs.
Activities since retirement
Charlie Ward enjoyed solid health for most of his career, only to fall prey to injuries later on. During his final year with Houston, Ward played in only 14 games. Those injuries ultimately led him to retire following the 2004-2005 season.
Ward soon transitioned into a coaching role. In 2007, he spent one year coaching both the football and basketball teams at Westbury Christian School in Houston, before taking over as their full-time varsity football coach.
In 2014, Ward accepted a position as the football head coach at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola, Florida. That decision was influenced in large part by the fact the Ward’s son Caleb was playing football for the school. In 2018, Ward took a new position at Florida State University’s Developmental Research School, as the basketball head coach.
In addition to his son Caleb, Ward and his wife Tonja have two other children: Hope and Joshua. Ward has accumulated significant wealth over the course of his career, and has an estimated net worth of $12 million.