Charles White, USC Star & 1979 Heisman Winner, Dies At 64
Former USC running back and 1979 Heisman Award winner Charles White died Wednesday due to complications from liver cancer. He was 64.
#FightOnForever, Charles White.
The 1979 Heisman Trophy winner, who won a national championship with USC in 1978 and went on to make the College Football Hall of Fame, died today in Newport Beach. He was 64. pic.twitter.com/iH0ANvslSM
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) January 12, 2023
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Between 1976 and 1979, White contributed to successive winning seasons for the Trojans, including 12-1 and 11-0-1 records in his junior and senior years, respectively. The team also won the Rose Bowl three times in four years with White on the roster, and he was named the Player of the Game in both 1978 and 1979. In his final season at USC, the year he won the Heisman, he rushed for 2,050 yards and 19 touchdowns.
White was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame the following year. He rushed for 6,245 yards and 49 touchdowns over the course of four seasons at USC.
Following an illustrious college career, the Cleveland Browns selected White with the 27th overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft. After four disappointing seasons with the team, he was released. White later said that his problems on the field came as he was battling an addiction to cocaine. He said that he suffered multiple relapses over the course of his career but eventually got clean.
He returned to the NFL in 1985 with the Los Angeles Rams and John Robinson, his old coach at USC. In 1987, he led the league in rushing yards to make it to his first and only Pro Bowl. He also earned Comeback Player of the Year honors that season. He retired in 1988 with 3,075 career rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.
“He was the toughest player I’ve ever coached,” Robinson said of his former player. “He was really unusual in that regard. He was a great player and just loved playing the game. Those are the things I remember the most. He was a really tough guy, and he was an extremely gifted athlete. But the toughness…wow!”
After his playing days, White served as the running backs coach at USC from 1993 to 1997 and maintained an administrative role at the university after his coaching tenure. He is survived by five children and one grandchild.
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