Vol. 53, No. 4 May 2016 .pdf version
Ed Graney: Moving forward, alert for icebergs
Joe Mitch: No dry eyes during Samantha Smith's speech
USBWA seeking volunteers to tackle everyday issues
Best Writing contest deadline approaches
Hield, Simmons, Mack win men's honors
Stewart, Auriemma capture top women's honors

Joe Mitch

There were no dry eyes during Samantha Smith's speech

USBWA Executive Director

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The most emotional moment at the USBWA's annual awards luncheon at this year's Final Four in Houston came when Samantha Smith spoke about her late husband Andrew, a former Butler player, and his courageous struggle with cancer.

"It was an incredibly moving speech," tweeted USA Today's Nicole Auerbach. "There was not a dry eye in the room."

Samantha received the USBWA's Most Courageous Award that was awarded to both her and posthumously to Andrew. It was an unprecedented move to honor two people from the same family with the award.

"I'm truly honored and humbled to accept the Most Courageous Award today," Samantha said.

More from the USBWA:
Andrew and Samantha Smith's blog
All-America Teams: Men | Women
2016-17 USBWA Officers

Samantha spoke about the draining effects chemotherapy had on Andrew. Yet, not once did he complain through all of his medical issues.

"For Andrew," Samantha said, "courage was receiving 12 hours of chemotherapy and then rushing to make it to the final hour of a bone marrow registry drive."

Andrew died at the age of 25 this past January after a two-year struggle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and later leukemia. Smith was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014 after discovering a mass in his chest the year before while playing professionally in Lithuania.

He lost 40 pounds as a result of chemotherapy but started a job in financial services in July 2014. Four days into his new job, Smith went into cardiac arrest for 22 minutes and spent three days in a coma. Miraculously, he displayed no signs of neurological damage. Smith had a bone marrow transplant in November, but the transplant failed and the lymphoma turned into leukemia.

Samantha Smith at the USBWA
Awards Luncheon in Houston

Andrew and Samantha went public with his illness, hoping to help others in similar situations. Samantha created the blog "kickingcancerwiththesmiths.wordpress.com" that chronicled Andrew's medical condition. Together, they raised awareness for the "Be The Match" bone marrow registry and the need for more young adults to register and be available to donate their marrow.

A TIME TO CELEBRATE: The USBWA wrapped up its 60th anniversary year by honoring basketball's finest at the College Basketball Awards dinner in Oklahoma City, one week after this year's thrilling NCAA championship game in Houston.

At the dinner, Yahoo Sports' Pat Forde, in his last official duty as USBWA president, presented Oklahoma's Buddy Hield with the Oscar Robertson Trophy as the national player of the year and Xavier's Chris Mack with the Henry Iba Award as the coach of the year.

ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla handed out the Integris Wayman Tisdale Award to Ben Simmons of LSU as the freshman of the year and the Tisdale Humanitarian Award to former Missouri coach Norm Stewart.

The dinner drew a record crowd of over 600 people, due mainly to the presence of the Sooners' Hield.

A week earlier in Houston, the USBWA honored some of its own at the association's awards luncheon.

Raleigh News & Observer staff writer Laura Keeley received the Rising Star Award, recognizing journalistic excellence by members who are under 30 years of age.

Induction ceremonies for the newest members of the USBWA Hall of Fame were held for Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star college columnist and former USBWA president; retired Notre Dame sports information director Roger Valdiserri; and the late Bob Pille, a long-time USBWA member who was a sportswriter for 38 years, including 22 years with the Chicago Sun-Times.

David Worlock, the NCAA's primary media contact for the men's Division I basketball tournament, received the Katha Quinn Award for service to the media.

The Ray Marquette Award was presented to Forde for his leadership as USBWA president. Forde sought to improve working conditions for writers and to increase access to players and coaches. He follows a long line of presidents who have made the USBWA a strong and vibrant organization today, representing nearly 1,000 members.

Lodge Notes: Rexrode moving to Tennessean

Joe Rexrode, who covered Michigan State for 15 of the past years for three newspapers, is leaving the Detroit Free Press to become a columnist at the Tennessean.

Following the sale of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, where Robert Gagliardi was an employee for 23 years, Gagliardi is now an employee of the Laramie Boomerang.

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