Charles lost his two-year battle with bladder cancer.
He was an alum of Columbia College Chicago and drove a taxi to help pay his tuition.
Charles landed his first television news job in Springfield, Illinois. CNN eventually hired him, and he started work on the network's first day on the air, June 1, 1980.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta talked with Charles just a few weeks ago.
"I'm a forward-looking person but also a living-in-the-moment person. So, I wake up every day expecting to have a good day. It may sound trite, Sanjay, but life as you get older is about 20 percent of what happens to you and about 80 percent how you react to it," Charles said.
Nick Charles anchored CNN's Sports Tonight for nearly 20 years.
He was 64 years old.