Sportscaster Nick Charles Dies of Cancer at 64

For two decades, Charles co-hosted the CNN show "Sports Tonight."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    CNN/AP
    This undated photo provided by CNN shows Nick Charles, CNN's first sports anchor, who died Saturday at age 64.

    Nick Charles, CNN's first sports anchor, died Saturday after a two-year struggle with bladder cancer, the network reports. He was 64.

    For two decades, Charles and Fred Hickman hosted the CNN show "Sports Tonight," which competed with ESPN's "SportsCenter."

    Charles died overlooking the Santa Fe, N.M. landscape he loved, his wife, Cory, told CNN.

    Nicholas Charles Nickeas grew up poor in Chicago and worked his way to Columbia College Chicago, where he studied journalism and communications, according to CNN.

    He drove a taxi to pay for school and was still driving when he auditioned for his first television job in 1970 in Springfield, Ill. He took the job and accepted a pay cut, earning $130 a week as a sports anchor, compared to the $200 he made driving a cab, according to CNN.

    His news director in Springfield suggested he change his name. From there, Charles worked in Baltimore and Washington before signing on at CNN.

    Charles, who was half-Greek and half-Sicilian, was known for his good looks and sharp clothing, The Washington Post reported.

    Charles left CNN in 2001 and joined Showtime as a commentator on boxing, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He covered some of the sport's most memorable fights, including the one in which Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield's ear.

    In 2009, his illness forced him to take a leave of absence from Showtime, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Before his death, he returned to TV only one time: on HBO's "Boxing After Dark" last March.

    Charles is survived by his wife, their daughter, Giovanna, and three children from two previous marriages: Jason, 39; Melissa, 36 and Katie, 24.

    Charles reflected on dying for an April 8 CNN.com article, written one month past the 20 months he was told in August 2009 that he could expect to live. He spoke about making video diaries for his 5-year-old daughter, to have to remember him.

    "Find that little kernel every day that brings you pleasure and joy — and fasten onto that. That's what's going to make life worth living. Always look for the best," he told CNN.com.

    "When you're contemplating your mortality and your life, those are the things I reflect on," Charles said.

    Selected Reporting: CNN, The Hollywood Reporter, The Washington Post