(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) Just weeks after Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton saw his Seminoles win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last March, his family was again struck by tragedy.
Hamiltons brother, Willie, had died after a battle with cancer. The disease that has affected so many of us has affected Leonard Hamiltons family more than others. He has lost four members of his immediate family to cancer his grandmother Della, his father John, and brothers Barry and Willie.
I always get emotional talking about it, Hamilton said. I dont know if theres any one of us alive today that has not been affected in some way, shape or form by the dreaded disease.
Their passing is one of the reasons why the Florida State coaching staff decided in the offseason to take part in this years Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The tournament began with four host sites -- Florida State played South Alabama on Friday and then Buffalo on Monday.
The tournament continues Friday with the championship rounds at the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Florida State (1-1) will face Brigham Young (2-0) at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Notre Dame (2-0) vs. Saint Josephs (1-0) at 9 p.m. ET. A consolation game will be played Saturday at 7 p.m. ET, while the winners are set to face off at 9:30 p.m. ET for the championship.
College basketball coaches have been active in organizing tournaments to bring both awareness and raise funds for cancer research. The Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, which began in 1993, is a joint effort of the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
More than 85 million dollars has been raised for research, cancer literacy, advocacy of health policies and to deliver services for patients and families.
Florida State just lost a member of its basketball family to cancer on Tuesday. Former assistant coach Kenny Williamson was on Pat Kennedys staff from 1989-94 before moving on to the NBA. Williamson, 65, had worked for the Memphis Grizzlies, and he was most recently the teams assistant general manager.
While he departed Tallahassee nearly 20 years ago, Williamson visited with the FSU coaching staff whenever he could.
We all have been touched by this, Hamilton said of Williamsons passing.
The focus this weekend may be on college basketball, but Hamilton hopes that fans of the sport will support the fight against cancer by donating to the American Cancer Society or other groups.
It means an awful lot for us to have an opportunity to be a part of this event just to make people more aware that we need to contribute as much as we possibly can toward the fight to find a cancer, Hamilton said. This is just a small way in which we, as college basketball coaches, can contribute towards finding a cure.