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The rebuilding of Indiana’s women’s basketball program

This news feature was written for my JOUR-H 200 Reporting, Writing and Editing course. I would like to thank IU Coach Curt Miller for being honest about the IU women’s basketball program when I talked to him in January as well as Jeremy Gray and Robby Howard for their insight on the Hoosiers.

Indiana University is rich in basketball tradition and success. Five men’s national championship banners hang from the rafters in Assembly Hall.

However, the Lady Hoosiers have recently experienced some dark years with a 29-60 record over the past three seasons. Indiana hired Curt Miller, who won six Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year awards and advanced to the NCAA Tournament five times at Bowling Green State University, to replace former IU Coach Felisha Legette-Jack, who was fired after the Hoosiers went 6-24 last season.

IU Coach Miller won MAC Coach of the Year six times in his tenure at Bowling Green State University.
IU Coach Miller won MAC Coach of the Year six times in his tenure at Bowling Green State University.

IU Coach Miller said that the Hoosiers are building the program by improving team chemistry, being involved in community service work and competing in the classroom.

“The wins—it’s going to take a couple of years,” Miller said. “It’s not going to be as easy to see the building on the court but we’re doing a lot of things to build the program and not just a team. A lot of that is off the floor that people don’t see.”

While IU Coach Miller is focused on improving the team off the court, he said that the Hoosiers are excited about winning because he said wins are hard to come by for his Indiana squad that is limited offensively.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20th, the Indiana women’s basketball team showed signs of growth when it earned its most significant win in the Curt Miller era. IU defeated No. 22 Purdue 62-61 after senior guard Jasmine McGhee hit the game-winning shot as time expired. It was Indiana’s first win over a ranked opponent since Dec. 5, 2010 and it was a promising result for a program eager to rebuild.

A Fierce Rivalry 

Jeremy Gray, IU’s Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services, said that the two Big Ten in-state rivals are on the opposite end of the spectrum in college basketball, which made the Hoosiers’ victory even more impressive.

“Purdue is a tournament team and Indiana is absolutely in a rebuilding effort,” Gray said.

He described Assembly Hall as having one of the two largest crowds for an IU women’s basketball game this season.

“There were a lot of students there for that game, they stayed throughout and they were a factor in the end,” Gray said.

Robby Howard, one of the two Indiana Daily Student women’s basketball beat writers, said that IU Athletics, the Crimson Club and the IU Varsity Club did a very good job marketing the game to students.

“They were really trying to attract students to the game and it obviously worked because it was the first time you had an actual student section at the game,” Howard said. “That obviously played a large role when you actually have audible fans and the team was really able to feed off that energy. You could see them making a lot of hustle plays and the crowd would come to its feet—that’s something that hasn’t happened all season long.”

Jeremy Gray said that the teams traded baskets the entire night, the play was at a high level and that the entire game was exciting. The excitement peaked when McGhee’s shot fell through the net as time expired, which prompted pandemonium on the court.

“As soon as the ball went through, literally as the time expired, her teammates charged her and hugged her,” Gray said. “Some of the men’s basketball players came on the floor and gave her big hugs.”

Indiana’s Assistant Athletic Director for Broadcast Services said that the win was huge for the Lady Hoosiers.

“It made SportsCenter’s top ten plays the following day, it got over 10,000 hits on YouTube and it was one of those games that when the program gets turned around in a couple of years, you can look back on this game as one that helped change everything for Indiana,” Gray said.

IU Coach Miller’s Rebuilding Effort

When asked how he was going to build IU’s women’s basketball program, IU Coach Curt Miller said, “Well a lot of areas, although they are not necessarily going to equate statistically. We believe that you build a championship team in the locker room first.”

He said that he knows statistical success will take a few years to develop but in the mean time, he is trying to change the culture of the program in his first season at IU.

Robby Howard said that Miller has told members of the media all season that Indiana is the worst team in the Big Ten. Despite having limited talent and few scholarship players on his roster, the Hoosiers’ first-year head coach teaches his players to give their best effort every day, whether in games or in practices.

“The big thing with Curt Miller and this program is that he wants his team to play hard and aggressive every single night,” Howard said. “It’s just tough to do when you only have seven scholarship players and eight players who are playing on the roster. It’s tough to play physical in that nature when you just don’t have a lot of bodies on the court.”

Howard cited the transfer of former Hoosier Quaneisha McCurty as an example of Miller making tangible changes on the culture of the program, especially with an emphasis on effort.

“It was simply due to the fact that she wasn’t playing hard in practice,” Howard said. “Miller’s whole philosophy is if you don’t play hard in practice, then you don’t play [in games].”

A Blueprint Right Across the Hall

Indiana’s women’s basketball team isn’t the only program that plays in Assembly Hall that has recently undergone a rebuilding process.

According to an Indiana Daily Student article from May 2008 that was written by Chris Engel, former IU Men’s Basketball Coach Kelvin Sampson’s impermissible phone calls caused the NCAA to put the program on probation.

ESPN’s Andy Katz wrote an article recapping the sanctions against Indiana in November 2008. Katz wrote that Indiana was placed on a three-year probation, the men’s program lost scholarships and that the coaching staff was severely limited in its access to high school players.

As a result of the penalties, IU’s men’s basketball team went 28-66 in IU Coach Tom Crean’s first three seasons. It took Crean three seasons to achieve his first win against a ranked opponent as well as to eclipse 10 wins in a single season.

While IU Coach Miller took over a Hoosier basketball program under different conditions, the Hoosiers’ win against Purdue allowed him to accomplish both of those achievements in his first season at the helm of Indiana’s women’s basketball team.

Robby Howard said that entering the season, a lot of comparisons were being made between IU Coach Crean’s revival of IU’s men’s basketball program and the rebuilding process that IU Coach Miller embarked on when he became the new women’s basketball coach at Indiana University.

Miller said before the season that the blueprint for the women’s program was right across the hall in the men’s program, which has been ranked No. 1 in the country for the majority of the season.

The most iconic element of IU Coach Crean’s rebuilding of IU basketball was the Hoosiers’ 72-71 victory over No. 1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall last season, which was completed by then-junior Christian Watford’s last-second three-pointer.

The Lady Hoosiers followed in a similar suit this season with a buzzer beater of their own, also against a major rival, when Jasmine McGhee’s 18-foot jump shot connected at the buzzer on Feb. 20th.

“Obviously the Indiana men’s team is a lot better than the women’s team but the analogy holds up in that it was a moment that got a lot of notoriety,” Jeremy Gray said as he discussed the comparison between the rebuilding processes of IU’s men’s and women’s basketball programs. “It showed that Indiana can compete in the Big Ten against high quality teams and player for player, Indiana was out-manned in that game. They found a way to get that done and I think that speaks to coaching.”

The Hoosier players have been the ones competing on the court but it has been the relentless preparation and determination of IU Coach Miller that has willed Indiana to two Big Ten victories in a season in which he told the media that “prognosticators said that Indiana wouldn’t even win a game [in the Big Ten] this year.”

Jeremy Gray and Robby Howard agree that IU Coach Miller needs to bring in great recruiting classes in order to elevate Indiana to the top of the Big Ten. Miller may have found his Cody Zeller—his All-American player around whom he can develop a championship program—in 2014 commit Tyra Buss, who Howard said was leading the country in scoring average per game earlier this season at roughly 38 points per contest.

“He knows what he has to do and now that he has a name like Indiana behind him, I think he’s just going to do phenomenal things,” Howard said.

IU Coach Miller is ready to turn the women’s program around because there is no job in the country that he would rather have.

At Hoosier Hysteria on Oct. 20th, 2012, in front of 17,472 excited Hoosier fans, IU Coach Miller said, “This is my dream job and I’m living my dream now.”

With his passion for Indiana University and his positive attitude about rebuilding the IU women’s basketball program, Curt Miller may just be the right coach to bring Indiana’s first women’s national championship banner to Assembly Hall.

NBA Draft requirements should be re-evaluated after Noel’s injury

LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire are just a few of the NBA players who chose to forgo college in favor of entering the Association out of high school. There may not be a bigger leap in athletics and not every player has flourished at the next level.

Even though some of these high school players haven’t panned out in the NBA, such as Kwame Brown and DaSagana Diop, they have still been able to make a living by playing basketball at the highest level in the world.

High school players could no longer go straight to the NBA when the draft entry rules changed in July of 2005. The NBA and NBA Players Association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that required players to be at least 19 years old and at least one year removed from high school.

Since 2005, the latest trend of star recruits has been “one-and-done” players, which has been the face of John Calipari’s recruiting strategy at the University of Kentucky.

Nerlens Noel, a 6’10” center out of Tilton, N.H., was ranked No. 1 in the 2012 recruiting class by ESPN and No. 2 by Rivals.com before committing to Kentucky. The latest 2013 NBA Mock Drafts from CBS Sports, NBADraft.net and HoopsWorld.com project Noel being selected anywhere from the No. 1 overall pick to fourth.

However, that could all change after Nerlens Noel suffered a gruesome torn ACL injury in the second half of Kentucky’s game against Florida on Tuesday.

Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. (Image courtesy of http://www.thebiglead.com/index.php/2013/02/13/nerlens-noel-photo-knee-injury-kentucky-florida/)
Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. (Image courtesy of http://www.thebiglead.com)

He will miss the remainder of the season and his future on the basketball court is up in the air.

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s MVP season last year, in which he was only nine yards shy of setting the NFL single season rushing record less than a year removed from tearing his left ACL and MCL, proved the advanced states of modern technology and medicine.

Noel will be able to rehabilitate his knee and return to the court but there is no guarantee that he will be the same player that averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game for Kentucky this season.

A potentially career ruining injury for arguably the best NBA prospect in college basketball is devastating if Noel is unable to rehabilitate his knee or return to his prior form.

Nerlens Noel had to be helped off of the court by several teammates due to the severity of his injury. (Image courtesy of ukathletics.com)
Nerlens Noel had to be helped off of the court by several teammates due to the severity of his injury. (Image courtesy of http://www.ukathletics.com)

The requirements to enter the NBA Draft must be re-evaluated. If Noel had been able to enter the draft after high school, he would have been paid handsomely. Even if he suffered a horrible injury in the NBA like the one that ended his college season, he still would have earned enough money to support himself and his family.

It has long been assumed that Nerlens Noel would leave for the NBA after one season at Kentucky. One year of college will help future lottery picks such as Noel mature and improve as basketball players but is it really necessary to force high schoolers to attend college for one year when it only takes one bad step or collision to ruin their futures in the NBA? One-and-done players use college as a gateway to millions of dollars and promising careers at the next level. If high school players are talented and mature enough for the NBA by the time they’re 19 years old, then why not let them enter the draft and try to profit from their talents while they’re healthy?

The NBA does not have to make any changes to the draft requirements but the league and the NBA Players Association should at least consider the possibility. Everyone—the NBA, college basketball programs, basketball fans and most importantly, the players themselves—loses if star players are injured in college and their careers are put in jeopardy.

By the numbers: No. 25 Notre Dame’s upset of No. 11 Louisville

ESPN college basketball writer and potential psychic Eamonn Brennan tweeted the following at 5:36 p.m.:

In the early hours of Sunday morning, his pre-game prediction turned out to be nearly correct except he underestimated the matchup by one overtime. No. 25 Notre Dame defeated No. 11 Louisville 104-101 at the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. For those who missed out on the longest regular season game in the history of Big East men’s basketball, here is the breakdown of the game by the numbers:

No. 11 Louisville and No. 25 Notre Dame's 5OT thriller was the longest regular season game in Big East history. (Image courtesy of http://www.uhnd.com/articles/basketball/notre-dame-wins-5-ot-thriller-12945/)
No. 11 Louisville and No. 25 Notre Dame’s 5OT thriller was the longest regular season game in Big East history. (Image courtesy of http://www.uhnd.com/articles/basketball/notre-dame-wins-5-ot-thriller-12945/)

5 overtimes is how long it took for Notre Dame to beat Louisville.

26 lead changes and 16 ties occurred over the course of the game.

5 of  the last 6 matchups between the two schools have gone to overtime and they have played a total of 11 overtime periods during that span.

8 players fouled out. Gorgui Dieng, Peyton Siva, Luke Hancock and Kevin Ware for Louisville. Jack Cooley, Tom Knight, Jerian Grant and Zach Auguste for Notre Dame.

66 fouls were called in the game.

39 minutes and 16 seconds it took Notre Dame to score 48 points.

44 seconds it took Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant to score 12 points (three three-pointers and one three-point play) to tie the game at 60 at the end of regulation.

17 points and 6 rebounds for Notre Dame center Garrick Sherman, who did not enter the game until the first overtime period.

Sherman did not play in 4 of Notre Dame’s previous 6 games.

4 times in which Louisville guard Russ Smith took the Cardinals’ final shot in an overtime period and missed.

ESPN college basketball writer Myron Medcalf credits Notre Dame in 5OT victory over Louisville

Last week I discovered how much fun ESPN’s live chats are because they allow fans to converse directly with the personalities that they follow on a daily basis. With the ridiculous number of upsets and exciting conference matchups, much of my attention is devoted to following college basketball. This afternoon, ESPN college basketball writer Myron Medcalf held a live chat on ESPN.com. I asked him about the five overtime thriller between No. 11 Louisville and Notre Dame on Saturday night that extended into Sunday morning.

Louisville junior guard Russ Smith is the Cardinals’ leading scorer at 18.3 points per game and Rick Pitino’s squad would not be national title contenders without him. Against the Fighting Irish, Smith scored 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out three assists. However, he was just 4-19 from the field in addition to missing game-winning or game-tying shots at the end of the first, second, fourth and fifth overtime periods. I asked Myron Medcalf how much blame Russ Smith deserves for the loss.

Myron Medcalf live chat UL v. ND

 

To read the full live chat, click here.

ESPN college basketball writer Dana O’Neil sees two future NBA players on IU’s roster

On Wednesday, I asked ESPN college basketball writer Dana O’Neil how many future NBA players she sees on No. 1 Indiana’s roster and she sees two: sophomore center Cody Zeller and junior guard Victor Oladipo. To view the entire live chat click here.

Dana O'Neil Live Chat

ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi responds to my question about Gonzaga’s NCAA Tournament seed

The Gonzaga Bulldogs (21-2, 8-0) are ranked sixth in the country and have a half-game lead over Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference. However, Gonzaga has lost two of its three games against ranked opponents. The Bulldogs lost at home to No. 11 Illinois 85-74 and at No. 13 Butler 64-63 this season. Even though they have one of the best records in college basketball, most of their wins have come against unimpressive WCC teams and good but not great non-conference opponents.

This afternoon, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi held a live chat on ESPN.com at I asked him if Gonzaga’s seed can (not will) only get worse from their current two seed projection. Click here for the full live chat.

Joe Lunardi live chat

ESPN college basketball writer Myron Medcalf responds to two of my questions on live chat

On Monday afternoon, ESPN college basketball writer Myron Medcalf held a live chat for fans on ESPN.com. Fortunately, he got around to answering two of my questions involving the No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers and their star wing Victor Oladipo. Click here for the full live chat.

No. 1 v. No. 2

 

Victor Oladipo POY?

February 2nd Blog: Chicago, General Admission ticket to No. 3 Indiana v. No. 1 Michigan

For the third time in five weeks, I went to Chicago, Ill. and this time it was with the Indiana University Ernie Pyle Scholars. On Thursday night, we networked with alumni and perspective students at Maggiano’s. We visited the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune on Friday. We ended the trip by seeing “Other Desert Cities” at the Goodman Theatre, which was a play that combined three of the things that I hate the most: people arguing politics, comedians who drop f-bombs in every other sentence because they think it makes them funnier, and people who jelly bean their clothing (a.k.a. wearing a monochromatic color scheme; in this case, all of the actors wore all white clothing for the opening scene). The end of the play marked the start of one of the most exciting days of my college experience: No. 3 Indiana hosting No. 1 Michigan on ESPN at Assembly Hall.

11:04 pm CT We leave the Hampton Inn & Suites hotel and board the charter bus. I pull the classic “put my backpack in the seat next to me and pretend to sleep” move in order to get two seats. It works to perfection and I get  the luxury of spreading out for my two hour nap.

11:35 pm CT We passed a McDonald’s in the middle of the freeway outside of Chicago near a toll booth and the United States’ struggles with obesity suddenly make much more sense.

12:00 am CT The bus sings happy birthday for a girl’s 21st birthday, which only livens the older students in the back of the bus and pushes everyone’s sleep schedules back another half an hour due to the noise.

4:23 am ET I wake up as the bus pulls into Bloomington. The volume level of the bus is only a low murmur and it is safe to say that I am clueless as to where we are. As I see the parking lot in front of Assembly Hall, I realize how insane, but commendable, it is for anyone to wait outside in the snow in the wee hours of the morning for ESPN’s College GameDay.

5:15 am ET After unpacking, it’s time for a quick nap before GameDay as the snow continues to fall.

I arrived in B-town with snow accumulating on the ground, which would make waiting in line for a General Admission seat even more challenging.
I arrived in B-town with snow accumulating on the ground, which would make waiting in line for a General Admission seat even more challenging.

6:00/6:05/6:30/6:41/6:59 am ET I wake up five times to my alarm and go back to bed after each time only to extremely regret it later.

11:03 am ET I wake up, this time for good, to realize that I slept through the start of College GameDay and my heart  shatters into a million pieces. I hop on to my laptop and get on Twitter to catch up on all of the clever signs and the cream and crimson-filled student section that I missed.

11:23 am ET My Twitter session is over and I am still trying to figure out what to do with my life. I decide that to redeem myself, I must get in the general admission line by 3 pm.

2:00 pm ET I order a burrito and a bag of Lays for lunch at the Wright Food Court before stopping in the Wright C-Store for a bag of sour gummy bears and a box of junior mints. Nice to meet you Freshman Fifteen!

2:41 pm ET One of my friends and I make the trek across campus to Assembly Hall to wait in the General Admission, where the daunting “pre-line” has formed. The GA line does not start until 3 pm and IU event security personnel defend the parking lot outside of Assembly Hall from the masses of IU students.

Indiana University students with General Admission tickets line up across the street from Assembly Hall in the "pre-line" before the GA line officially starts at 3 pm.
Indiana University students with General Admission tickets line up across the street from Assembly Hall in the “pre-line” before the GA line officially starts at 3 pm.

2:51 pm ET A group of fifteen to twenty kids manage to sneak past security and they make a mad dash to Assembly Hall behind Cook Hall, which is where the IU men and women’s basketball teams train. The students lining East 17th Street follow suit and it’s literally every man/woman for him/herself. With only three security personnel at the GA line, there are close to no rules. Cutting in line is rampant. Students hop fences and pack together in line like sardines even though the doors won’t open until 7:30 pm. We make it reasonably close to the door yet seem so far away, with nearly five hours to kill and a few hundred students in front of us. When the dust settles, no one has any room to move and one IU fan spends five minutes painting the white snow with his regurgitated breakfast of ramen noodles.

Our spot in line earned us 17th row seats after six and a half hours of waiting. I sat in the same row for the Indiana-Wisconsin game after arriving at Assembly Hall only 45 minutes early.
Our spot in line earned us 17th row seats after six and a half hours of waiting. I sat in the same row for the Indiana-Wisconsin game after arriving at Assembly Hall only 45 minutes early.

3:30 pm ET A sneaky Hoosier fan thinks that he can get away with cutting most of the GA line but with the help of two new, whiskey-loving friends we made in line, Leo and Oliver, we call attention to the cutter and the event staff kick him out of the line.

4:45 pm ET IU event security is severely outnumbered but manages to get the students in the GA line to spread out  after nearly an hour of arguing with students who cling to their spots in line as if it is their most prized possession.

Their is no shelter for fans in the GA line. Event staff tell students that they risk their spot in line by going to the bathroom.
Their is no shelter for fans in the GA line. Event staff tell students that they risk their spot in line by leaving to go to the bathroom.

6:32 pm ET ESPN college basketball analyst and former University of Michigan star basketball player Jalen Rose stops by the GA line to greet Indiana fans. He is met with mixed reactions; some ask for pictures with him and his autograph while others heckle him for his Michigan ties.

7:47 pm ET After hours of not feeling my toes and dealing with fans trying to cut the GA line, I make it inside Assembly Hall with my friends. We have 17th row seats that are close enough to see the expressions on the faces of players in their shoot-around and the hosts of ESPN’s College GameDay as they film their pre-game show.

ESPN's College Gameday is filmed with Indiana and Michigan players warming up in the background.
ESPN’s College GameDay pre-game show is filmed with Indiana and Michigan players warming up in the background.

11:08 pm ET Yogi Ferrell’s late free throws seal the deal for the Hoosiers as they knock off a No. 1 team at home for the second year in a row. Indiana wins 81-73 and will likely be No. 1 in next week’s polls after No. 2 Kansas lost earlier in the day to Oklahoma State. (If you watch the video closely, you can see Victor Oladipo doing a windmill dunk as time expires, which he later apologized for in Indiana’s post-game press conference.)

11:10 pm ET Indiana Coach Tom Crean celebrates with IU fans as photographers surround him in Assembly Hall.

Indiana Coach Tom Crean was not taken by surprise with this year's win over the No. 1 team as he was with last year's last second three-point shot by Christian Watford to defeat No. 1 Kentucky. After the post-game handshakes, he acknowledged the crowd and celebrated the victory with Indiana fans.
Indiana Coach Tom Crean was not taken by surprise with this year’s win over the No. 1 team as he was with last year’s last second three-point shot by Christian Watford to defeat No. 1 Kentucky. After the post-game handshakes, he acknowledged the crowd and celebrated the victory with Indiana fans.

Hoosier Hysteria 2012

The 2012-13 college basketball season officially kicked off at 12:00 am on Saturday, October 20th. The unanimous preseason #1 Indiana Hoosiers hosted a sellout crowd at Assembly Hall for the annual kickoff celebration Hoosier Hysteria. The men’s and women’s teams were introduced and there were a variety of competitions for Hoosier fans to watch, including an inter-squad scrimmage and a dunk contest. ESPN anchor and IU grad Sage Steele hosted the event and junior Victor Oladipo provided comedic relief throughout the night. Check out the video below to see the excitement of Hoosier Hysteria.

 

Lance Armstrong is Down but Not Out

The last word you would think of to describe Lance Armstrong is “quitter.” He fought and eventually overcome testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. He lived out the 40% chance of survival that his doctor told him he had after surgery to remove the testicular cancer. After chemotherapy and surgery, Armstrong went on to win the Tour de France seven consecutive times, breaking the previous record of five wins, a four-way tie, held by Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx, and Jacques Anquetil. However, Lance Armstrong has decided to end his battle against the United States Anti-Doping Agency. The USADA had charged him with doping and now that Armstrong’s fight has ended, the agency is going to strip him of his seven Tour de France titles and give him a lifetime ban from cycling.

While I am not convinced that the USDA all of the evidence necessary to make such accusations and punish Lance Armstrong so harshly, I understand why he is giving up on his case and moving on in his life. In a statement released by the Associated Press, Armstrong said, “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now…I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today — finished with this nonsense.” He went on to call the USADA’s investigation of him an “unconstitutional witch hunt.”

Courtesy of http://johnnyarchive.mlblogs.com/tag/mlb

Some will accuse his statements and his end to fighting his doping charges as his admission of guilt. Even if it is, which there is still inconclusive evidence to prove, the aftermath of his decision will not ruin Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong is bigger than cycling and will largely be remembered for his contributions to society beyond his bike. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised over $470 million to “support our mission to inspire and empower people affected by cancer,” according to the foundation’s website. His is a beacon of hope and inspiration for those with cancer. ESPN sportswriter Rick Reilly tweeted today about how he has sat with Lance Armstrong as he “answers emails from strangers w/ cancer diagnosis. Fills them w/ advice + hope. Does it every day for an hour.” The “Livestrong” bracelets alone have raised over $325 million for cancer research.

At the end of the day, Armstrong was a world-class athlete, not only in cycling, but also running and swimming. He overcame life-threatening cancer. He won the Tour de France seven consecutive times and has won several Ironman competitions. He has devoted his life to help others defeat the disease the put him through chemotherapy, surgeries, and left him knocking on death’s door. And he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The USADA may have banned him from cycling and stripped him of his Tour de France titles but Lance Armstrong has compiled a lifetime of impressive feats, including serving others by helping them through cancer and he will continue to do so for as long as he is able.