March 12, 2010
Cary, N.C. – Georgia Tech senior basketball player D’Andre Bell has been named one of nine finalists for the 10th annual V Foundation Comeback Award by the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The award is presented in conjunction with ESPN and the recipient will be announced March 30 during ESPN’s basketball coverage.
The other finalists are Dallas Blocker, Youngstown State; Brianna Culberson, Denver; Kelvin Davis, San Diego State; Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska; Sanchez Hughley, Florida Atlantic; Thomas Kleinschnitz, Franciscan University of Steubenville; Kristen Lucci, Waynesburg; and Dana Pernell Smith II, Longwood.
The annual award is open to men and women collegiate basketball student-athletes in all divisions. It is awarded to an individual or a team who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life or moral dilemma. Student-athletes are nominated by their athletics department representative. With a great show of respect, San Diego State’s Kelvin Davis was nominated by BYU Head Coach Dave Rose, marking the first time a student-athlete was nominated by the coach of an opposing team. Both Davis and Rose are cancer survivors.
In October 2008, Bell was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spine that can result in debilitating injury if left untreated. He was immediately ruled out for the 2008-09 season. When doctors mentioned the potential consequences of a future contact injury, Bell agreed to surgery and scheduled it for December in his hometown of Los Angeles.
Bell finished the fall semester and met all of his academic requirements. He sat out the 2008-09 basketball season and graduated in May 2009 with a degree in management. Doctors cleared him to play over the summer, and he has started every game for the Jackets, who seek a return to the NCAA tournament.
The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, the late basketball coach and ESPN commentator, whose personal battle with cancer inspired the creation of The V Foundation. In his memorable speech at ESPN’s inaugural ESPY Awards announcing the creation of The V Foundation, Valvano’s “Don’t Give Up. . .Don’t Ever Give Up!”® motto created a legacy from which the Comeback Award was created.
“We continue to be amazed at the strength and resilience of the student-athletes who are nominated for The V Foundation Comeback Award,” said V Foundation CEO Nick Valvano. “These young people are outstanding student-athletes who have faced adversity and challenges with determination and strength.”
“This is the tenth anniversary of the award, and, once again, the nominees capture the `Never Give Up’ spirit of The V Foundation,” Valvano continued. “I would be honored to have my brother’s name remembered with each and every one of them.”
The 2010 recipient will be selected by a six-member sub-committee of The V Foundation Board of Directors. Past recipients of the award are: Katie Douglas, Purdue (2001); Kristin Koetsier, Western Michigan (2002); Justin Allen, Arizona State (2003); Jamie Carey, Texas (2004); Kayla Burt, Washington (2005); Grant Dykstra, Western Washington (2006); the United States Military Academy Women’s Basketball Team (2007); Nicole Hester, Drexel (2008); Tiffara Steward, Farmingdale State (2009).