So if you know me, you know that I am a sports fan–especially when it comes to the University of Tennessee. For years, men’s basketball at UT languished in the SEC basement in the shadow of football and the juggernaut that is women’s basketball. But three years ago, UT hired a new coach and it hearalded a new beginning in men’s basketball. They started winning. Not only that, the team became likeable–they were hardworking, dove for loose balls and looked like they were having fun. And for the past three years the leader on the court was the smooth-shooting Chris Lofton. He effortlessly made threes from all over the court–including a game winner against the much higher-ranked Texas that was barely across the half-court line.
But this past season, in his senior year, something was clearly off–he wasn’t making the shots. He wasn’t driving to the basket. Something was wrong. But the coaches just kept shrugging it off. The pundits said he had peaked in his junior year and wrote him off. But as the season wore on, we saw glimmers of his former self. He had a solid season, just not the stellar one that had been predicted.
And today we found out why. Days after the 2007 season ended, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had surgery, followed by radiation treatments.
Chris insisted that no one know except those who absolutley had to. His teamates didn’t know. The media didn’t know. Certainly the fans didn’t know.
His parents live a few hundred miles away, so a trainer took him to his treatments. But Chris went home alone and faced the nausea and exhaustion on his own. As someone who went through cancer treatment–chemo, not radiation–I can’t imagine doing it on your own. And I can’t imagine doing it while I was in college.
Game after game I’ve been amazed at Chris’ athletic abiltiy. Now I’m equally amazed by his courage.