RALEIGH, N.C. — From the Yankees and Red Sox to the Lakers and Celtics, the greatest rivalries in sports must include the University of North Carolina vs. Duke University.

What You Need To Know

  • Franklin Street in Chapel Hill is the home of an anti-Duke, pro-UNC merchandise store

  • A father and son together ran the anti-Duke store called Classic Carolina before their deaths last year in a car crash

  • Dhruva Chellani’s brother Mohan Chellani stepped up to run the business with the help of his niece, Krystal Chellani  
  • UNC will host Duke in Chapel Hill on Saturday

Years of good old-fashioned hate will play out on the court on Saturday evening in Chapel Hill in an AP Top 10 matchup.

But two of the Tar Heels' biggest fans are missing while their spirits live on.

A father and son together ran an anti-Duke store on Franklin Street called Classic Carolina before their sudden deaths last year.

Dhruva Chellani, 61, and his son Kris Chellani, 24, were killed in a car accident last fall. The store closed for a month as the family scrambled to figure out what to do in their absence.

Yet after having been only a visitor to the store, Dhruva Chellani’s brother Mohan Chellani stepped up to the plate to run the business with the help of his niece, Krystal Chellani.

“Oh God, it’s still very difficult sometimes,” Mohan Chellani said. But heartache and hardship can’t keep the Indian-American from trying to fill their shoes with a sense of humor.

“We were almost clueless, and we were able to come out of it unscathed, but pretty bruised,” Chellani said with a smile.

This is the first UNC-Duke game on campus since Chellani’s younger brother and nephew died.

“It’s just unfortunate he (Dhruva Chellani) didn’t get to see the rest of his life. He worked 30 years, and he was hoping his son could do everything with him,” Chellani said. 

Nowhere does the hate for the Blue Devils flow as it does at Classic Carolina. Shirts with Duke spelled "Dook" and Rameses chasing the Blue Devil mascot with the words "Not Today Satan" hang from the wall.

In this shop, fighting words are normal.

Ask UNC senior Anne Huffman why trash talk just feels right.

“I think because we hate Duke and want to see them lose so we can storm Franklin Street,” Huffman said.

The business is a concept Chellani said his brother Dhruva, who most of the time went by Drew, cooked up 30 years ago.

“That’s why people know there is some very unique stuff you can’t get anywhere else,” Chellani said.

Chellani, 63, is learning the ins and outs of his brother’s store as best he can. 

Chellani said Drew was headed for retirement with his son Kris waiting in the wings to take over the family workplace.

That day never came because of a head-on car collision with another driver while they returned home from an event on Sept. 6. Nina Chellani, Drew Chellani's widow and mother of Kris Chellani, survived but was hospitalized for months with injuries.

The sudden vacuum of leadership at Classic Carolina forced Mohan Chellani, a lab scientist, to drop his life in Florida to move to Chapel Hill to run the store.

“It’s been tough. We talked every day,” Chellani said about his late brother.

Chellani said the first six to eight weeks of running the store felt like rocket science, but quitting isn’t in the family's blood.

“He was almost ready to give it up right? I didn’t want that to just slow down,” Chellani said.

The learn-on-the-fly businessman said the Carolina blue and white gear on the racks driving shoppers wild has become the same colors coursing through his veins.

“I think he realized he could give students and the community what they wanted,” Chellani said.

Behind the front counter, Chellani has often kept a candle burning with a photo of his brother and nephew right behind it. He said lighting it is a symbol of his desire to carry on his younger sibling’s vision in their honor.

“I think he was so friendly. He knew every one of these kids who’d come here. The players. He knew five generations of students. He was really a popular guy with everybody. Whether it was the other businesses or relatives, friends. Everyone loved him,” Chellani said.