Justin Allen Named Finalist For V Foundation Comeback Award

March 12, 2003

CARY, N.C. -- The V Foundation for Cancer Research today announced the finalists for the third annual V Foundation Comeback Award, and Arizona State Men's Basketball player Justin Allen is one of the ten finalists. The award is given in conjunction with ESPN and will be announced during ESPN's basketball Final Four weekend coverage.

The award is given annually to a collegiate level basketball student-athlete, male or female, who has accomplished a personal triumph in the face of true adversity, be it in health, life, or moral dilemma.

Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, detected early in the Stage II phase, in late September of 2000. Allen began chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments that October and redshirted in 2000-2001. After finishing his chemotherapy in May of 2001, he started practicing with the team for its Australian trip and then took part in the trip and played last year as a sophomore.

ASU team doctors Dr. Steven Erickson and Dr. Deborah Garland began identifying the illness through unexplained weight loss in early September 2000. A bone marrow biopsy and a lymph node biopsy were performed on Sept. 14. Dr. Bob Evani performed a biopsy of the lower abdomen on Sept. 20, which detected the lymphoma. Allen's chemotherapy and radiation treatments lasted about six months and were monitored by Dr. David Paul, a Phoenix-area oncologist.

Even more inspirational was the attitude Allen had while fighting the disease. He posted a 3.23 grade point average the next year after cancer was detected and came to almost every practice.

Allen has played in 18 games this season and he recorded a season-high six points at Utah on December 7.

The finalists for the V Foundation Comeback Award are: Justin Allen, Arizona State University; Bryan Anderson, Malloy College; Kassidi Bishop, University of Louisville; Sherri Brown, St. John's University; Tiffanie Hager, Kent State University; Mike King, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; Linda Lappe, University of Colorado; Tomas Ress, Texas A&M University; Beth Roederer, Miami University (OH); and Derrick Tarver, The University of Akron.

'Once again we are so impressed and heartened by the incredible strength and resilience of these young people,' said Foundation CEO Nick Valvano. 'This award is very special to us not only because it honors an outstanding young student-athlete who has faced adversity, but also because that young person truly captured the spirit of what embodies our Foundation - the Never Give Up attitude which symbolized their comebacks.'

The award is presented in memory of Jim Valvano, late basketball coach and ESPN announcer, 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 has been created.

Past recipients of the award are Purdue's Katie Douglas (currently playing with the Connecticut WNBA team) and Western Michigan junior Kristin Koetsier.

'The ten 2003 finalists again represent the finest in collegiate student-athletes, on the court, in the classroom and in life,' Nick Valvano concluded. 'My brother would be honored to be remembered with all of them.'

Short Bios of the Remaining Nine 2003 Comeback Award Finalists:

Bryan Anderson, Malloy College -- an injury during a scrimmage left him temporarily paralyzed and he missed the final ten games of the 2000 season. Soon after he lost both his father, and then his grandfather to cancer. Anderson has returned this season through resilience and toughness showing great leadership to his squad.

Kassidi Bishop, University of Louisville -- improperly diagnosed bi-polar episodes caused emotional turmoil that led to a suicide attempt, numerous trials with prescriptions, and attempts at self-medication with other drugs and alcohol. Stabilized through a program that enabled her to quit most medication, Bishop petitioned the NCAA on the grounds that bipolar disordered be treated like other injuries. With eligibility extended, she sustained an ankle injury, which was thought to be a career-ending injury, but has fought back from that, as well.

Sherri Brown, St. John's University -- following her freshman year, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Following a year off, Brown has rejoined her team, averaging 10 minutes per game, and has started twice, providing an inspiration to everyone connected to the Red Storm program.

Tiffanie Hager, Kent State University -- a redshirt freshman, she has become a valuable member of the Kent State team while fighting a continuing battle with thyroid cancer, where she faced multiple surgeries. After a year off to tend to treatments, medications and diet changes that left her exhausted, Hager has returned to her team and is playing a key role off of the bench.

Mike King, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay -- orphaned at a young age, profound loss in his personal life makes every day a comeback for him. Through basketball he became a member of another 'family' but in his sophomore year, chronic lower back pain led to a diagnosis of an arthritic condition. He sat out an entire season to rest and rehabilitate and while not pain-free, has returned to the court to inspire others as he triumphs over personal pain and personal loss.

Linda Lappe, University of Colorado -- she has overcome four major surgeries to her left leg and has come back to lead the Buffaloes for her senior year. In her sophomore year, she sustained a 'career-ending' injury, which snapped her kneecap in half. Four major surgeries and 12 months of rehabilitation followed, but as she returned to her squad, she was diagnosed with OCD (osteochondritis dissecans), a degenerative bone condition in her left ankle, with a lesion more than three times the size that is typical. More surgery and rehabilitation followed and against all odds, Lappe has rejoined her team while maintaining a 3.62 GPA in business.

Tomas Ress, Texas A&M University -- the junior from Solano, Italy was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, but was later diagnosed to be a severe staph infection. The condition was considered life-threatening as he suffered severe pain, his lungs were functioning at 50 percent capacity and attempts to lower his 105 degree fever failed. Once stabilized, his weight had dropped from a healthy 230 pounds to 195. Ress returned to the court, but a relapse sent him back for another hospital stay. Far from his native Italy, he handled his illness without the support, or even informing, his parents.

Beth Roederer, Miami University (OH) -- a veritable laundry list of medical conditions, have resulted in two surgeries and a battery of painful tests throughout her career. Tests revealed that she suffered from Bilateral Exertional Compartment Syndrome, a tissue/muscle disorder causing agonizing pain in her lower legs, resulting in two Bilateral Fasciotomies, which provided little relief. The following spring Roederer was diagnosed with Rhabdomyolysis, a muscle condition causing great swelling and pain in her upper arms and back, as well as kidney problems. Following a relapse, tests revealed she was Carnitine Deficient, a disorder with no cures but supplement/nutritional treatments make suffering more tolerable. Through all, she continues to lead her team on the court and maintain a 3.4 GPA.

Derrick Tarver, The University of Akron -- his twin brother Darren, a student-athlete at George Mason, went into cardiac arrest during a pick-up game last spring - Darren survived, and was diagnosed hypetrophic cardiomyopathy and resulted in a cardiac defibrillator implant, and the end of his basketball career. Tests revealed, Derrick, being a twin, suffered from the same condition although not as severe, and as a precaution, a defibrillator was implanted. After sitting out for the pre-season, he returned for a spectacular offensive season for himself and his team.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano. The foundation has raised over $27 million and awarded 170 grants nationwide. The Foundation operates efficiently, with 86% of every dollar raised available directly for research. To learn more about The V Foundation, visit www.jimmyv.org.

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