March 10, 2010
Greensboro, N.C. – Georgia Tech guard D’Andre Bell, who faced a potentially serious spinal condition with surgery and patience to return to the Yellow Jackets’ starting lineup in 2010, is the fifth winner of the Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award.
The citation is named for the Clemson University sports information director who passed away in 2000 after a three-year battle with bone cancer. It was established by ACSMA in conjunction with the ACC in 2006, and it is given annually to a male or female basketball player, coach or team administrator who has overcome significant injury, illness or adversity in life to become a valuable contributor to his or her program and institution.
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 quickly agreed to surgery and scheduled it for December in his hometown of Los Angeles. Things went well, and doctors were optimistic about Bell’s return in 2009-10.
With the procedure weighing on his mind, he finished the fall semester and met all of his academic requirements. Denied the chance to play basketball for the first time in memory, Bell focused on his studies, graduated in May 2009 with a degree in management and resisted the urge to come back to the court too soon.
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.
“Even though I’ve gone through what I’ve gone through, nobody’s going to have any sympathy for me on the court,” Bell said. “”There’s no reason to hang your head as a man.”
The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association is an organization of journalists dedicated to fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between the news media and the institutions and administration of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The group casts officially recognized votes for All-ACC teams in football and men’s basketball and serves as a liaison to decision-makers.
2009: Adrian Thomas, Miami player
2008: Matt Zitani, Florida State player
2007: Debbie Ryan, Virginia coach; Kay Yow, N.C. State coach
2006: Tony Bethel, N.C. State player