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Vol. 51, No. 2 • January 2014 • .pdf version
Most Courageous: As always, tough choices abound
By ED GRANEY / Las Vegas Review Journal
It's pretty simple. It means not deterred by danger or pain.
Brave. Fearless. Unflinching in the face of adversity.
Such is how you can best describe those nominated annually for the Most Courageous awards by the United States Basketball Writers Association.
It's no different this season.
The task that voters will face in choosing a men's and women's winner will be beyond difficult, given the countless examples of courage being shown throughout the college landscape.
This will mark the fourth consecutive year two awards for courage will be handed out at the Final Four, taking place this year at AT&T Stadium in North Texas for the men and Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., for the women.
Here, then, are some of the leading candidates for the Most Courageous awards:
• Kevin Ware, Louisville: His nightmare played out in front of a horrified nation of fans. Ware broke his right leg during an Elite Eight game against Duke last March, and the guard's painful journey of rehabilitation from the compound fracture has returned him to the court for Rick Pitino's team this season.
• Allan Chaney, High Point: The senior recently made the difficult decision of ending his playing career, the result of a heart condition that has been chronicled back to his playing days at Virginia Tech. Chaney returned to the floor from heart scares in 2009 and 2010, but an issue with his internal defibrillator during a game this season led to him to walk away for good.
• Danny Berger, Utah State: The junior underwent his own heart episode in 2012, collapsing on the court during practice and going into full cardiac arrest before being revived by an assistant trainer. Berger was averaging just over 11 minutes through seven games this season.
• Dau Jok, Pennsylvania: Named for his father, who was killed 14 years ago in the Sudanese Civil War, Jok has established a foundation aimed at educating the children of Sudan through sports. As a young man who grew up around intense violence, Dau has made it his mission to bring a sense of peace to his people.
• Robert Kirby, Memphis: The assistant coach lost his mother to kidney failure and lupus 17 years ago. In October, he donated a kidney to his sister so that she might not realize the same fate.
• Mark Fisher, San Diego State: The assistant coach and son to head coach Steve Fisher has been diagnosed with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Mark Fisher, who over the last 12 seasons has played a major role in taking the Aztecs from a losing program to a perennial Top 25 team, continues to work as part of his father's staff.
• Jallen Messersmith, Benedictine College: The junior forward is believed to be the first openly gay player in U.S. men's college basketball, having come out to the Associated Press last May.
• Andre Dawkins, Duke: His career derailed by depression following the death of his sister in 2009, the senior guard has fought his way back from the darkness to average 7 points in 11.5 minutes through nine games.
• Amber Henson, Duke: Six knee surgeries in two years. That's what the redshirt freshman post player has undergone, causing many to wonder if the high school All-American would ever play for the Blue Devils. She is, averaging 11 minutes through 10 games this season.
• Kirsten Moore, Westmont College: Sadness and heartache struck this NAIA team from Santa Barbara, Calif., in May of 2012, when the husband of head coach Moore died from a pulmonary embolism. Seven weeks later, Kirsten gave birth to a baby girl. She then led her team to the NAIA national championship.
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