Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

March 15, 2013

INDIANA PACERS SPOTLIGHT: Hansbrough's heart

Pacer star raises money for brain cancer research

INDIANAPOLIS — Tyler Hansbrough remembers the backyard brawls with his two brothers.

He remembers setting up a trampoline — much to the dismay of his orthopedic surgeon father — next to a basketball goal so the three could slam dunk.

He remembers something else: His older brother, Greg, being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor at age 7. The family was told to enjoy him while they could. He didn’t have much time to live.

“When Greg first got diagnosed, he wasn’t given much of a chance,” said Tyler, 27, as he sat on the Pacers practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday. “It wasn’t good at all.”

Most people know Indiana Pacers players Tyler and youngest brother Ben, 25. But it’s their rarely mentioned older brother they say is the real standout.

Greg, 29, was their inspiration growing up, and he still is today.

“I watched him overcome obstacles that most people never see in their lifetime,” Tyler told The Indianapolis Star .

“What he’s been through, he’s a fighter. He’s a warrior,” said Ben. “He’s been a fighter his whole life.”

Fighter for sure. Although surgery to remove the tumor was successful, doctors thought Greg would never walk again. He not only walked, but he ran.

He played basketball for four years at his high school in Poplar Bluff, Mo. He ran track. He’s played soccer and run marathons as an adult even though the surgery had long-term effects on the left side of his body. He can’t move his left hand or the toes on his left feet.

And while Greg is his brothers’ inspiration, he says they are very much his.

“As I was training for marathons, I fed off of them more than they will ever know,” said Greg, who is finishing his communications degree at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where Tyler was a star for the Tarheels. “I pictured Tyler in the gym shooting. I pictured Ben lifting weights and playing pickup with anybody in town who would play with him.”

While the two younger Hansbroughs are the standout athletes now, it was Greg people watched before he got cancer. If parents found out Greg was in one race, they would put their child in a different one.

He always got the blue ribbon.

He could swish baskets again and again. He would drain layups right or left handed.

But then one day, the left-handed layups stopped falling. One night at dinner, he couldn’t get his left hand to use the fork.

Greg’s dad, Gene Hansbrough, knew something was wrong. He took Greg to the hospital where he was given a CT scan.

“I saw this big tumor in his head,” Gene told the Columbia Missourian in 2008. “It was very devastating.”

The doctor’s prognosis was dire: The tumor was inoperable, located dangerously close to the brain’s on-off switch — the reticular activating system. He had a couple months to live.

Greg was never told that, only that he had a tumor.

“I remember them telling me, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of it,” Greg said. “I thought it was cool I was getting out of school.”

Gene had connections in the medical world. He was researching what could be done. He found one of the best neurosurgeons at the Mayo Clinic who was willing to do the operation. What could have been a fatal operation was a success.

But when he woke up, Greg realized success had a different feeling for him. He couldn’t walk. His vision was blurry. The left side of his body was clumsy and weak.

“That’s when it first hit me,” Greg said. ‘Wow. This isn’t just getting out of school.’ “

Still, all three Hansbrough brothers realize Greg was lucky.

Not everybody with brain cancer has the opportunities that Greg had, Tyler said.

So, he and Ben have come out as celebrity spokesmen for Voices Against Brain Cancer to raise awareness and, more importantly, money.

The two hosted a fundraiser Thursday in honor of Greg benefiting the organization at the Fieldhouse. Called Hoops with the Hansbroughs, guests will get to eat, drink and shoot around with the brothers and, maybe, a few other Pacers players.

While other celebrities, like Tony Danza and Marc Anthony, have come out to support the brain cancer cause, the Hansbroughs will be the first professional athletes.

“What (they’re) doing, it’s the first in the NBA. It’s the first of its kind in all of sports,” said Mario Lichtenstein, who founded Voices Against Brain Cancer nine years ago after his son died of the disease.

“It’s the first time a sports celebrity has come out to be a voice against brain cancer.”

Lichtenstein is thrilled to have them.

“Especially with basketball because it reaches all ages,” he said. “Celebrity awareness, when done for the right reason and the right things, it stops people and it makes them listen.”

He wants people to listen to his organization’s message.

He calls brain cancer the orphan disease. It has little support. Few people even think about it when it comes to giving money. But it is a devastating cancer, especially for children.

Each year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor and it is among the leading cause of death for people 20 and younger.

Effective treatment is difficult, because there are more than 120 types of brain tumors. Depending on the location, a noncancerous one can be just as life threatening as a cancerous one.

And long-term side effects can change a survivor’s life forever.

But Greg didn’t let it. Just ask Ben.

As the youngest brother, he was often the target of some punches. Greg could throw them artfully. He would tackle both his younger brothers.

“I had a little bit of a rougher time getting beat up and getting picked on,” Ben said. “It kind of makes up who I am.”

Greg shaped Ben in other ways. Even though he was just three when Greg was diagnosed, Ben remembers it all.

He and Tyler stayed with their grandparents, who didn’t talk much about the situation. But the brothers knew. They felt the void.

Greg remembers missing them, too. He just wanted to get back and play with them.

The three, after all, are a tight group, and Greg has been the epitome of that older brother to look up to.

When asked to describe each other, Tyler said Greg is outgoing and ambitious. Ben is unique. He calls himself laid back and easygoing.

Turn the tables on Ben, and he calls Greg unique and Tyler serious.

“Me? You can’t describe me in one word,” Ben said.

That’s the truth, said Greg, adding that Ben is impressive and Tyler is admirable.

As for himself?

“Alive,” he said. “And hardworking.”

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

1
Text Only
Sports
  • GN140418 bulls-gibson Improved Gibson proves key for Bulls' success DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Taj Gibson flashed back to the grueling workouts in the searing Southern California heat last summer. There he was with Derrick Rose, running and jumping and trying to take his game to another level for the Chicago Bulls while thei

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140418 base nr-wv kennedy PREP BASEBALL: A pitcher's duel EMMA -- The pitchers were dominant early on until the offenses could getting things going in a high school baseball game between the Northridge Raiders and the Westview Warriors Friday night at Westview. Both starting pitchers hurled four innings of

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Thunder Pacers Basketball [Duplicate] NBA: Pacers switch into playoff mode against Hawks INDIANAPOLIS -- The Pacers believe things have changed. Instead of chasing the top seed in the Eastern Conference, all they have to do is protect their home court. Instead of pressing, they've been joking around. And instead of trying debating what w

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Paul George making big play for endorsement deals

    Paul George already has a winning resume

    April 19, 2014

  • GN140418 bulls playoff push NBA: Bulls ready to start playoff push against Wizards CHICAGO -- Lose a franchise player, trade away another star. Snag home-court advantage for at least one round in the playoffs? It's not the way the Chicago Bulls mapped it out at the start of the season. But here they are, holding the fourth seed and

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140418 ghs wawa nr btrk 01 PREP BOYS TRACK AND FIELD: Warriors triumph GOSHEN -- The Wawasee Warriors showcased a couple of very talented athletes in an NLC meet with the Goshen Redskins and the Northridge Raiders Thursday night at Foreman Field. Juniors Clayton Cook and JJ Gilmer were involved in six first places finis

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • GN140418 bglf goshen hartsough PREP BOYS GOLF: Goshen easily downs Central in 2014 opener ELKHART -- Sometimes, the third time really is the charm. After the first two scheduled meets of the season were postponed due to inclement weather earlier this week, the Goshen High School boys golf team was finally able to start the 2014 season Th

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Golf turns into snooze-fest without celebrities like Tiger and Phil

    The Masters lumbered on last week without two of pro golf's biggest names, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and fans changed the channel. The PGA needs someone with star power if it's going to lure people back to the game.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • TGN Sports Roundtable, Ep. 26

    April 17, 2014

  • Pacers Magic Basketball -3 [Duplicate] NBA: Pacers rest 3 starters, cruise past Magic ORLANDO, Fla. -- Rasual Butler and Chris Copeland each scored 19 points as the Indiana Pacers rested their key players and cruised to a 101-86 victory over the Orlando Magic in the regular-season finale for both teams. The Eastern Conference's top se

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Poll

Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

Yes, I have noticed more problem properties
No, I have not noticed more problems
I think the problems are about the same as always
     View Results