Growing up in Gainesville, Charles Hendrix credits a strong network of women in his family and his own basketball coaches as reasons he didn’t fall through the cracks.
Hendrix was raised by a devoted single mother, Gloria Maddox, at the Atlanta Street Apartments. He was also profoundly inspired by his grandmother, Mary Kesler, who put four daughters through college by working as a cook at E.E. Butler High, and later earned her own high school diploma.
His basketball love was fostered by former Red Elephants assistant coach, Virgil Amey, who reinforced the value of making a plan for success in life.
Now 40, the Gainesville High graduate has made it his mission to share those values and lessons he learned decades ago in Hall County and put it into motion with kids he works with as a high school athletics administrator in South Florida.
“Growing up in Gainesville made me who I am today,” said Hendrix, who is now married with two young daughters.
The 15-year educator has now instilled those lessons from the basketball floor — both as a player and coach — and meshed it with his concept for a program that started five years ago to form the Legacy Athletics and Leadership Academy, which is based where he works as athletics director at Coconut Creek High in Coconut Creek, Florida.
So many people had a hand in his development.
Now Hendrix is working hard to invest in future generations.
After a decade living in the Sunshine State, Hendrix said his growing family is happy to call it home and plans to stay for a long time to come.
“We love it here in Florida,” Hendrix said. “It’s expensive, but we have low taxes.”
His basketball pride and joy, The Sunshine State Basketball Explosion, is building for his third year and accepting more schools to fill out its bracket.
He’s molded the event after Lanierland, where Hendrix has so many treasured memories from his time playing with the Red Elephants, and has worked diligently to get more Georgia schools down to play in Florida after Christmas.
Previously, Hendrix hosted Jefferson High and Cedar Shoals High in his basketball showcase.
In the future, he hopes to open it up to more programs in Georgia, and possibly Hall County, if the timing is right and doesn’t interfere with Lanierland.
“I really want to get my people from Georgia involved, a piece of home,” said Hendrix, who spent the 2007-08 school year coaching at Gainesville Middle School.
Hendrix has already done a lot since his own playing career wrapped at Lander University in 2003.
He coached alongside Gainesville High graduate Doug Lipscomb in 2008-09 at national powerhouse, Wheeler, before spending two years as head coach at Pebblebrook High (2010-2011) — both schools in Marietta.
Once he moved to Florida, Hendrix remained active in the coaching ranks as an assistant with the basketball program at Johnson & Wales University in North Miami.
That’s on top of his day-to-day responsibilities as the point person of all the athletics programs at Coconut Creek.
It was busy, but more of a calling for Hendrix.
Still, Hendrix saw a gap in the education system.
Athletes had opportunities to play, but he felt were not given the tools to succeed once they moved into the business world.
Right now, his central focus is teaching kids in his leadership program about financial literacy.
“I want kids to know how to invest, save money and be ready for life once the basketball stops bouncing,” Hendrix said.
From his time playing for the Red Elephants, Hendrix can still hear the words of Amey rolling around in his head.
Amey told Hendrix it was good to have basketball talent, but that wouldn’t get him through life in the real world.
“Coach Amey always told me you have to be about substance,” Hendrix said. “He would say, ‘when they pull back the veil, there has to be something on your transcript and resume.’”
The message for Hendrix’s basketball academy started when Coconut Creek High was rich with football talent, including Trayvon Mullen (now a starting cornerback with the Las Vegas Raiders), Binjimin Victor (Baltimore Ravens) and Malek Young (who played at the University of Miami) — all US Army All-Americans in 2016.
Hendrix also taught them in the classroom. He said his students pressed him to take the message outside the school walls at Coconut Creek.
“They told me to take what I was saying to a broader audience,” Hendrix said.
So, Hedrix took a nugget of an idea and saw it to fruition with diligent outreach to members of the community and potential business supporters.
For Hendrix, that’s not hard.
He has good people skills and doesn’t mind putting in long hours to make a vision become reality.
To make it happen, there’s meetings with city officials and private-sector sponsors, who help facilitate covering the cost for out-of-state teams to play in his centerpiece basketball showcase.
“I’m good at multitasking,” Hendrix said with a laugh.
The work week is long for Hendrix.
He’ll get home at 9 or 10 p.m. on nights that Coconut Creek High has sports games, and won’t see his family before 5 p.m. on other days.
However, he blocks off Sunday strictly to be with family — wife, Shavon, and daughters Addison, 4, and one-month-old Gabrielle Marie.
For Hendrix, his focus is making sure young people realize their full potential.
It’s a message firmly instilled in his soul from growing up in Gainesville.
“I want to make sure our schools teach young people to be good citizens, encourage them to become entrepreneurs,” Hendrix said.