At Pink Game, Tiana Mangakahia’s inspiring story shines through

first_imgHer battle with cancer inspired the Syracuse community and made a national impact. After Syracuse’s game against Oregon on Nov. 24, reigning Wooden Award winner Sabrina Ionescu stopped Mangakahia before the game and asked for a photo. Ducks head coach Kelly Graves called Mangakahia the “biggest star in the gym” that day, and the whole team took a picture with her. “We support her, we love her, and I know she inspires us,” Graves said after that game.Sunday’s scene in the Dome — one of omnipresent pink — was the first thing Mangakahia saw after leaving the locker room. Eight chemotherapy treatments, a double mastectomy and countless trips to the hospital with her teammates prefaced the Play4Kay game — named after the late hall of fame coach Sandra Kay Yow — which raises awareness for breast cancer.Otto’s Army representatives handed out free pink T-shirts with the foundation’s name printed on the back. Pitt donned pink alternate jerseys, and fans were encouraged to wear pink gear. Both teams warmed up in black and pink jerseys with the “Power of One” logo and a pink breast cancer ribbon, and Syracuse players also showed off their #Tough4T shirts before tipoff.During a timeout halfway through the first quarter, a video played on the Carrier Dome big screens. One after another, SU players flashed in front of the camera and lauded the courage and strength of those affected by breast cancer.“Stay strong, stay positive, keep the hope. We’re here for you,” graduate transfer Whisper Fisher said in the video. “Take it day by day,” Lauren Fitzmaurice said. “You are stronger than you might feel right now,” Amaya Finklea-Guity echoed.At halftime, another video package appeared on the screen, this time with more personalized messages from Mangakahia’s teammates offering their unwavering support. Then, Mangakahia and 14 other cancer survivors in the community lined up at half-court. The crowd stood as a public address announcer told the stories of the survivors.“That was a big moment, I know, for her,” Lewis said. Forward Emily Engstler, one of Mangakahia’s closest friends, said Sunday’s tributes were “powerful” and should help Mangakahia regain the confidence she had “before the battle.” Mangakahia said in a video that one of the biggest challenges for her was losing her once-long and blonde hair, which has begun to grow back in.Throughout the season, Mangakahia has sat on the bench during games and watched practices when she’s not undergoing treatment. Graduate transfer Elemy Colomé called her a “player-coach” and said she brings a fresh perspective to the SU sideline. In November, Hillsman said he once had to yell at Mangakahia for talking too much during practice. “She doesn’t get a pass,” he said on Nov. 5.Two days later, the team announced Mangakahia was officially cancer-free. According to cancer.org, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life. Mangakahia and long-time SU fan Victoria Hill-Gilbert are part of that statistic.When the final buzzer sounded Sunday, Mangakahia walked back to the locker room after the handshake line but stopped by Hill-Gilbert’s front-row seat. She signed the Syracuse native’s game program featuring Mangakahia without hair in an orange Syracuse jersey.Danny Emerman | Sports EditorIt meant a lot to Hill-Gilbert, especially since she has stage 4 breast cancer. Mangakahia smiled after signing. The Syracuse all-time assist leader hopes to play next year pending an NCAA waiver for another year of eligibility, but until then, her impact will transcend any game.“I think it’s very important that we have people, women, who stand up and say breast cancer is still an issue,” Hill-Gilbert said.“It’s been very inspirational.” Comments Twenty seconds before the end of warmups, Tiana Mangakahia emerged alone from the locker room tunnel. Smiling and shaking her head in awe, she high-fived fans wearing pink t-shirts, headbands and sweaters before taking her seat on the bench.Every game, home or away, Mangakahia is adoringly welcomed by fans, opposing coaches and players. It’s become routine for her. The 2019 All-American’s battle with breast cancer has captured the attention of the sport. And on Sunday, for the first time since her breast cancer diagnosis in June, the 24-year-old addressed the Carrier Dome crowd.“Syracuse is my second home now,” Mangakahia said at halftime near midcourt. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to make it through without everyone’s support, especially from my teammates, coaches, athletic department. Just thank you so much.”In Syracuse’s annual Play4Kay/Pink Game, the Orange (14-11, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) honored Mangakahia’s battle with breast cancer with video tributes and a halftime ceremony. “The day was special,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said. A 71-53 blowout win against last-place Pittsburgh (4-21, 1-13) served as background noise for the true main event: Mangakahia, who’s been cancer-free since November.“Everyone probably has someone that they know in their family that has been touched by cancer,” Hillsman, wearing a pink dress shirt and pink paisley bowtie, said. “It’s different when it’s someone that plays for you. When it’s one of your kids, it’s like it’s one of your daughters.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textElizabeth Billman | Asst. Photo EditorThe game itself was never in question. The Orange led by double digits for almost the entire contest. They’ve adjusted this year without their superstar point guard, as redshirt junior Kiara Lewis (19 points, six assists, six rebounds) has taken on lead-guard responsibilities. With two top-10 wins and now a four-game winning streak, an eighth-straight NCAA tournament appearance is within reach.Yet Mangakahia’s battle has always been bigger than basketball, than tournament aspirations, than wins and losses. She announced her decision to return to Syracuse for her senior season — her final year of eligibility — in April because she wanted to improve her draft stock. Two months later, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, or invasive ductal carcinoma. Published on February 16, 2020 at 11:27 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmerman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

NFL Draft 2019: Kyler Murray’s new Nike ad hits on eve of Round 1

first_imgJust the beginning… @usnikefootball pic.twitter.com/kyFyOl3ESZ— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) April 24, 2019″Patience is part of the process. I had to sit and wait my turn. I knew my time would come. I picked up some hardware along the way. I couldn’t have won the Heisman without my teammates. I’ve always dreamed of being a professional athlete,” Murray says. “But honestly, I want to be the best to ever play the game.” Many have projected that Murray, 21, will go as the No. 1 overall pick when Round 1 starts shortly after 8 p.m. ET Thursday in Nashville. The quarterback led Oklahoma to a 12-2 record last season as he threw for 4,361 yards and 42 touchdowns with seven interceptions and also rushed for 1,001 yards.Even though Murray was selected with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, he chose to pursue a career in football. If he is selected on the opening day of the NFL Draft, he will become the only player ever to be a first-round selection in both the MLB and NFL drafts. Former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray shared an inspirational Nike ad on the eve of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, just hours after it was announced he had signed an endorsement deal with the company.  Murray posted the spot on his Twitter account Wednesday night with the caption: “Just the beginning …”  Related News The Heisman Trophy winner narrates the video and explains what drew him to playing football as a young kid. The ad features footage of Murray playing sports as a kid and then pivots to his highlights at  Allen High School, near Dallas, and Oklahoma.”I just love sports: basketball, baseball, football,” Murray says, in part. “As a kid I did it all. But in my heart, I’m a football player. There’s nothing like it. It’s what I live for. Ever since I could walk, I’ve been drawn to it. … NFL Draft 2019: Kyler Murray skips charity appearance day before first-round selectionslast_img read more