The United States Basketball Writers Association annually recognizes
a player, coach, official or administrator who has demonstrated extraordinary
courage reflecting honor on the sport of amateur basketball. Along with
the award, the USBWA presents a $1,000 check to the charity or scholarship
fund as selected by the recipient.
2018: Sam Dowd,
Dowd found himself homeless at 13 and spent
the next few years living with friends, occasionally sleeping
of school when he had no place to go. Thanks to hard work and the
generosity of coaches and families along the way, Sam eventually
realized his dream of playing Division I basketball at Idaho State.
2018: Avery Marz, Saint Joseph's University
made her college debut in 2017, more than three years following a
that nearly ended before it ever began.
Bronson was a social activist while
playing basketball at Wisconsin. He was supportive of the pipeline
standoff at Standing Rock in North Dakota, even traveling there to lend
support on a controversial issue and to give a basketball clinic.
2017: Holly Rowe, ESPN and Angel Elderkin, Appalachian State
The first co-recipients of the award, both Holly
and Angel have had to deal with cancer in their lives. Rowe, a longtime
ESPN sideline reporter, is the first recipient who is neither an
athlete, coach, official or team public relations person. Rowe has been
very public in battling desmoplastic melanoma while continuing to stay
on air doing the job she loves. Elderkin has continued to guide the
Mountaineers from their Boone, N.C., campus, since being diagnosed with
Stage III Endometrial (ovarian) cancer last summer.
2016: Andrew and
Samantha Smith, Butler
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association
announced the selection of Kent State coach and cancer survivor Danielle
O'Banion as the winner of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award for women's
basketball and the late, former Butler player Andrew Smith and his widow,
Samantha, as co-recipients of the USBWA's Most Courageous Award for men's
basketball. The two courage awards are presented annually by the USBWA to
honor players, coaches, officials or administrators in college basketball
who have demonstrated extraordinary courage in the face of adversity.
2016: Danielle O'Banion
Former Kent State coach
continued coaching while battling lymphoma and eventually became
2015: Austin Hatch,
Michigan freshman Austin Hatch, who survived two
plane crashes, lost family in both of them and was in a coma for two months
with a traumatic brain injury following one crash, has been selected to
receive the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Most Courageous Award
for 2015. The plane crashes occurred in the span of eight years, the first
of which claimed the lives of his mother, older sister and younger brother;
the second of which took his father and stepmother. Neither of those tragedies,
however, is what makes Hatch courageous. It's because of how he's lived
his life since, fighting to overcome both his own physical hardships and
emotional challenges, and also embracing his new opportunities. Rather than
be angry at what he's lost, Hatch instead prefers to celebrate what he's
been given – a chance to honor his parents by becoming the man they dreamed
he would be.
2015: Lauren Hill, Mount St. Joseph University
Inspired a nation while battling pediatric brain cancer.
2014: Dau Jok, Pennsylvania;
Dan Peters, Akron; and Kirsten Moore, Westmont College
U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected Dau Jok of the University
of Pennsylvania and Dan Peters of the University of Akron as co-winners
of the USBWA's Most Courageous Award for men's basketball and Kirsten Moore
of NAIA Westmont College as the recipient of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous
Award for women. All three exemplify what the USBWA's courage award stands
for: inspiration, hope and an undeniable spirit to persevere.
2013: Dick Kelley,
Boston College and Beckie Francis, Oakland
women's basketball coach Beckie Francis and Boston College sports information
director Dick Kelley have been selected as female and male recipients respectively
of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Most Courageous Award. The
award is presented annually by the USBWA to honor male and female athletes,
coaches, officials or administrators in college athletics who have demonstrated
extraordinary courage while facing adversity in life.
2012: Bernard James,
Florida State and Pat Summitt, Tennessee
This year, the
USBWA honors Florida State's Bernard James and University of Tennessee coach
Pat Summitt as recipients of the 2012 Most Courageous Awards, two people
who defined the word differently but lived it fully. James is the most unconventional
of high school dropouts, a kid who grew disenchanted with the social hierarchy
of school yet would head to Barnes & Noble to read on the days that
he cut. After receiving his GED, he followed footsteps of his stepfather,
a career military man, and at the age of 17, James enlisted in the Air Force.
Pat Summitt has experienced life more fully than most of us. With more wins
than any other coach in basketball history – man or woman – and eight national
titles, Summitt has achieved unparalleled success yet hasnever sacrificed
her own dignity or grace. She is fierce and tough, yet respected and loved.
She's also never been afraid of a fight, which is why, when she was diagnosed
with early onset dementia, Summitt did what she always does – she attacked
2011: Arsalan Kazemi,
Arsalan Kazemi of Rice and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir
of Memphis – two student-athletes with similar backgrounds who have had
to endure bigotry and discrimination to play college basketball at their
respective institutions – have been named co-winners of the Most Courageous
Award. Kazemi, a sophomore forward at Rice, is the first Iranian-born athlete
to play NCAA Division I basketball. Abdul-Qaadir, a freshman guard at Memphis,
is believed to be the first Muslim woman to play in Division I with her
arms, legs and hair covered during games in accordance with her Muslim faith.
2010: Dave Rose, Tiffara
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association named both men's
and women's winners of the Most Courageous Award for the first time,
with the men's honor going to Brigham Young coach Dave Rose and the
women's to Farmingdale State point guard Tiffara Steward. Rose nearly
lost his life last June to pancreatic cancer – a form of cancer that few
beat – but was back on the recruiting circuit the following month and is
back coaching a BYU team that had won all but one of its games through mid-January.
The 4-foot-6 Steward is believed to be the smallest player in college-basketball
history. She was born three months premature, weighing just 2 1/2 pounds
and measuring eight inches, and she underwent three surgeries by the time
she was 3 years old. S he has been a starter and team captain the past two
seasons at Farmingdale State, a Division III school on Long Island, N.Y.,
though she is blind in her right eye, has over a 50-percent hearing loss,
has one leg that is shorter than the other and battles severe scoliosis.
2009: Kelvin Davis
A 6-3 shooting guard from Waterbury, Conn., Davis was diagnosed with Hodgkin's
lymphoma last spring. However, the San Diego State senior was able to overcome
the cancer and returned to the Aztecs while still undergoing his chemotherapy
and radiation treatments. He has appeared in eight games this season for
the Aztecs and has averaged 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 10.4 minutes.
Davis' saga began last spring when he felt fatigued while playing. Originally,
it was thought he may be coming down with mononucleosis. However, there
was a lump developing on Davis' neck. He knew about it but he didn't say
anything because he didn't want to jeopardize his spot on the team. But
his condition grew worse and a trip to the doctor revealed Davis had cancer.
2008: Josh Porter
LSU-Shreveport's Josh Porter was considered a walking miracle after
returning to play for the Pilots this season following a life-threatening
neck injury he sustained in a game the previous season. Porter, a Shreveport,
La., native, fractured the vertebrae in his neck in a collision with a teammate
during a game in November 2006. Porter fell so hard that the plastic facemask
he wore to protect a broken nose shot across the floor upon impact. Following
10 months of rehabilitation and recovery, Porter was back playing basketball
this past fall. He returned to his old form from two years ago when he was
an NAIA All-American and led the Pilots in scoring this season, averaging
over 22 points a game and ranking among the top five scorers nationally
in the NAIA.
2007: Duquense Dukes
Five players were shot in an incident
after an on-campus dance before the season started in September. The shooting
occurred as the basketball players left the dance. Sophomore guard Aaron
Jackson, who suffered minor injuries in the shooting, started for the Dukes
during the season. The most seriously injured player, Sam Ashaolu, is on
course to play in 2007-08 after being shot twice in the head. After being
near death, Ashaolu underwent daily rehabilitation to regain his speech
and memory skills. Stuard Baldonado practiced during the season, but didn't
play in games after suffering spinal injuries. Two other players, Kejo Mensah
and Shawn James, suffered minor injuries and will play for the Dukes next
season after sitting out as transfers.
2006: Mike Sutton
The Tennessee Tech coach continued to coach
while battling the paralyzing effects of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. In his
fourth season at the school, he attended games and practices from his motorized
2005: Grant Dykstra
The Western Washington guard/forward transformed
himself into an all-around player, despite having partial use of his right
arm due to a childhood accident. Dykstra's right arm was mangled in
a grain auger when he was two and required 16 surgeries over the next 10
years. He taught himself to shoot left-handed and learned to dribble with
both hands. The 6-4 junior from Everson, Wash., was the leading scorer on
the school's NCAA Division II nationally-ranked team.
2004: Trey Schwab
Marquette assistant coach who received a
double-lung transplant 26 months after being diagnosed with a rare and potentially
deadly lung disease. Schwab continued to coach for two seasons despite undergoing
six operations, spending 13 months on a portable oxygen machine and taking
an experimental drug that slowed the disease.
2003: Rayna DuBose
Remarkable story of one young lady's
fight to overcome a near-fatal brain and spinal cord bacterial infection
that eventually led to her losing parts of all four limbs following her
freshman year on the Virginia Tech's women's basketball team.
2002: Jamel Bradley
Deaf since he was 18 months old, Bradley
overcame an 80 percent hearing loss to have an inspiring career at South
Carolina. He led the Gamecocks in scoring his senior season and finished
as the all-time career and single-single season three-point scoring leader.
2001: Oklahoma State Basketball Program
Eddie Sutton, OSU Head
Coach, accepted the Most Couragous Award on behalf of the Cowboy program
after 10 members of the team died in a plane crash on a return trip home
from a game at Colorado.
2000: Nathan Binam
A left-handed shooting guard for Oral Roberts
University who returned to ORU's starting lineup for his senior year
after sitting out one year following a car accident that resulted in Binam
having to have the index finger on his shooting hand amputated above the
1999: Eddie Shannon
Florida point guard who played his entire
high school and college career with one eye because of an injury he suffered
in seventh grade. He was hit in the right eye with a rock on the playground
and had the eye replaced with a prosthesis prior to his senior year at Florida.
He finished his career as Florida's all-time steals leader.
1998: Jacky Kabba
Jacky Kabba left his homeland, war-torn Liberia,
to receive a college education and play basketball at Seton Hall University.
1997: Wes Flanigan
Before the 1996-97 season began, Auburn
guard Wes Flanigan was diagnosed with cancer in his arm. After major surgery
to cut out the malignant tumor, Flanigan returned to have an outstanding
senior year for the Tigers.
1996: Corinee "Cori" Carson
The junior guard/forward
at Division III Marymount University in Arlington, Va., returned to play
basketball just one year after undergoing a liver transplant. She was within
two hours of death before receiving a new liver. In her first game back
Carson scored 29 points.
1995: Nolan Richardson
The veteran Arkansas coach overcame
racial prejudice and the death of his daughter from leukemia in the process
of establishing national powerhouse programs at Texas Western Junior College,
Tulsa and Arkansas.
1994: Orlando Antigua
University of Pittsburgh forward who
overcame numerous obstacles growing up in a troubled New York neighborhood.
Played his first two college seasons with a bullet in his head, the result
of a street shooting incident while he was a sophomore at St. Raymond's
High School in the Bronx.
1993: Jim Valvano
Coached several schools, including Iona and
North Carolina State where he led the Wolfpack to an NCAA title in 1983.
Waged a year-long battle with bone cancer.
1992: Pete Pavia
A longtime official in college basketball
who battled cancer for 13 years while continuing to referee games throughout
1991: Eric Murdock
A star player at Providence College who
recovered from an irregular heartbeat and a series of nagging injuries to
have a tremendous senior year for the Friars.
1990: Donald Taylor
A homeless youngster from New York City
who developed his basketball skill to a point of earning a scholarship to
the University of Massachusetts.
1989: Landon Turner
Former Indiana University player who returned
to the playing court in a wheelchair basketball league after being paralyzed
in an automobile accident in 1981, the summer after his team won the NCAA
1988: Steve Kerr
Senior guard at the University of Arizona
who played a key role on the Wildcats' Final Four team. He overcame
the tragic assassination of his father during his college career.
1987: David Rivers
He had a remarkable recovery from an automobile
accident and returned to play at Notre Dame.
1986: Bob Wenzel
The basketball coach at Jacksonville who made
a miraculous recovery from surgery to correct a brain aneurysm. He returned
as JU's coach and led them to the NCAA tournament.
1985: Dennis Schlitt
He battled back from a life-threatening
illness to play basketball at the U.S. Military Academy.
1984: Reggie Warford
An assistant coach at Pittsburgh who rescued
an elderly couple from their burning home in Lexington, Ky.
1983: Ronnie Carr
A Western Carolina basketball player who
survived a serious automobile crash, overcoming post-operative lung and
1982: John Flowers
Flowers overcame tremendous personal and
physical problems to continue his career at Bowling Green.
1981: Mark Alcorn
A player on the LSU team who was a victim
1980: Phil Scaffidi
Cancer victim who played basketball at
1979: Bill Wanstrath
A one-armed basketball player who competed
successfully at Batesville High School in Indiana.
1978: John Kratzer
A cancer victim who played basketball at
William & Mary.