Acts Of Kindness, Charity Really Make Sports Stars

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The Roundup's sports writer, Max Foster, is on vacation this week, leaving us less-than-sporting folks to take care of business.

Some of us, on occasion follow sports, but not with the educated eye that Max has.

To give you an example of how much I don't know about sports ...

Back in 1988 my family had a close encounter with the University of Arizona basketball team that would eventually be part of the Final Four.

In March of that year my half-brother, David, who was 8 at the time, was diagnosed with liver cancer. He was a big fan of the Wildcats and my father knew someone involved with the university's booster group.

A call was made and the night before David's operation, to remove a tumor that had encased three-quarters of his liver, these really tall men came to visit him. Obviously they were basketball players, but I had no idea who they were.

The booster had contacted Coach Lute Olson and told him about David and how a visit from some of the team would cheer him up. Apparently the coach told the team and said it was up to them, but a visit would be appreciated.

There were three to five players who came to see David that night, and said hello to the other youngsters in oncology at the U of A Medical Center.

Whether that visit made a difference in the outcome of the surgery and recovery from cancer is anyone's guess. But David came through the 15-hour surgery and made such a good recovery, his doctors released him from his follow-up treatments almost two years ahead of schedule.

While I did not know the players and some have since become stars in the National Basketball Association, I have always remembered that their coach gave them a choice and those young men did a very gracious and unselfish thing.

Was it the way they were brought up or the values they learned from their coach? It was probably a combination of the two.

Would Olson's team today have members who would do the same thing? We hear about the scandals in big-time college and professional sports, but the stories of kindness and generosity are few and far between.

Professional athletes and college stars can't be painted with the same broad strokes any more than we can generalize about any group of people. There are good-hearted sports stars out there, and there are some a little closer to home.

They may not yet be "stars" in their sport, but they are stars for their efforts on behalf of others.

At Thanksgiving, several young men from the Longhorn football team provided a turkey dinner for a family in need. This Christmas, another family will benefit from the generosity of the team.

The phrase "Go, Longhorns" has a little more meaning when acts of charity are part of the equation.

Go, Longhorns.

Merry Christmas.

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