Sep 12, 2011
Basketball Coach Takes To ESPN To Tell Team About Prostate Cancer

When Concordia University Chicago head men’s basketball coach Tyler Jones learned he had prostate cancer, he kept it a secret, telling only family and close friends.

But with the start of the school year at the River Forest school, he had another family that needed to know — his players.

So Jones, 49, invited the team to his Lincoln Park home to break the news earlier this month. The emotional session was broadcast on ESPN‘s “Outside the Lines.”

“I saw a couple kids just drop their heads in their hands, Jones said. Some kids had the old deer-in-the-headlights look, but then I saw some that never lost eye contact with me. … I was really happy because to me, that was a sign of strength.”

Jones, a father of five, was diagnosed in early May. Both his father and brother had prostate cancer, so he always tried to keep a close eye on his health, especially after he learned in April that Steve Lavin, head coach of St. John’s University in New York, announced he had prostate cancer. He arranged for a checkup and was told he had cancer.

“I just went into complete shock, he said. I was paralyzed for, literally, about two or three weeks. I didn’t say anything to anyone.”

Jones started treatment immediately and is about halfway through his current cycle of therapy.

He said he chose proton therapy over chemotherapy mainly because he felt it would allow him to continue coaching. In the treatment, proton beams, originally designed for use in nuclear physics research, are used to treat cancers of the prostate as well as of the bone and eye. They have proved effective in curing the diseases while leaving surrounding tissues unharmed, medical reports show.

Jones said the question of how and when to let his players know about his medical condition weighed on him. He especially didn’t want to alarm his newly recruited freshmen.

“They just committed to play basketball and go to school here for four years, he said. I was determined not to let any information out until I was well on my way through treatment.”

The session at his home went well, he said. He was eager to have it shown by ESPN because he wanted to share his story in the hope that it would inspire others to get a medical checkup.

At the school’s weight room Friday, players were still grappling with the news.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks, said junior forward Marlin Vilius, a transfer student preparing for his first season with Concordia. But he’s a warrior. If he can fight cancer, he can lead us to anything.”

Junior guard Al Kahlfeldt, who is entering his third year with the team, said he always saw Jones working out, running and shooting baskets. The 20-year-old was shocked to hear of the cancer, as he felt Jones was the picture of health.

“I don’t think it has settled in yet, he said. You hear those words, and you know what they mean. But it’s hard to understand. He’s always around, helping everyone.”

The news quickly reached friends like Adrian Griffin, who had a 10-year career in the National Basketball Association. Jones coached him in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association.

“He was just so supportive to all of us, said Griffin, who was an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls last season. “He’s become like family.”

Griffin described Jones as a proud man who helped give his players the tools they needed to excel on the court. He said he wasn’t surprised to learn that Jones doesn’t plan on missing any games.

He wasn’t a quitter and always taught the importance of not making excuses, Griffin said.

As Jones enters his fourth year at Concordia, he remains optimistic that he will beat the cancer.

He said he isn’t sure what he’ll be doing in five years.

“But if I’m coaching basketball, I’ll be doing what I want to do, he said.

Basketball Coach Takes To ESPN To Tell Team About Prostate Cancer

Chicago Tribune, Jim Jaworski

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-concordia-coach-cancer-20110912, 0, 7227417.story

When Concordia University Chicago head men’s basketball coach Tyler Jones learned he had prostate cancer, he kept it a secret, telling only family and close friends. But with the start of the school year at the River Forest school, he had another family that needed to know — his players. So Jones, 49, invited the team to his Lincoln Park home to break the news earlier this month. The emotional session was broadcast on ESPN ‘s “Outside the Lines.” “I saw a couple kids just drop their heads in their hands, Jones said. Some kids had the old deer-in-the-headlights look, but then I saw some that never lost eye contact with me. … I was really happy because to me, that was a sign of strength.” Jones, a father of five, was diagnosed in early May. Both his father and brother had prostate cancer, so he always tried to keep a close eye on his health, especially after he learned in April that Steve Lavin, head coach of St. John’s University in New York, announced he had prostate cancer. He arranged for a checkup and was told he had cancer . “I just went into complete shock, he said. I was paralyzed for, literally, about two or three weeks. I didn’t say anything to anyone.” Jones started treatment immediately and is about halfway through his current cycle of therapy. He said he chose proton therapy over chemotherapy mainly because he felt it would allow him to continue coaching. In the treatment, proton beams, originally designed for use in nuclear physics research, are used to treat cancers of the prostate as well as of the bone and eye. They have proved effective in curing the diseases while leaving surrounding tissues unharmed, medical reports show. Jones said the question of how and when to let his players know about his medical condition weighed on him. He especially didn’t want to alarm his newly recruited freshmen. “They just committed to play basketball and go to school here for four years, he said. I was determined not to let any information out until I was well on my way through treatment.” The session at his home went well, he said. He was eager to have it shown by ESPN because he wanted to share his story in the hope that it would inspire others to get a medical checkup. At the school’s weight room Friday, players were still grappling with the news. “It hit me like a ton of bricks, said junior forward Marlin Vilius, a transfer student preparing for his first season with Concordia. But he’s a warrior. If he can fight cancer, he can lead us to anything.” Junior guard Al Kahlfeldt, who is entering his third year with the team, said he always saw Jones working out, running and shooting baskets. The 20-year-old was shocked to hear of the cancer, as he felt Jones was the picture of health. “I don’t think it has settled in yet, he said. You hear those words, and you know what they mean. But it’s hard to understand. He’s always around, helping everyone.” The news quickly reached friends like Adrian Griffin, who had a 10-year career in the National Basketball Association . Jones coached him in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association. “He was just so supportive to all of us, said Griffin, who was an assistant coach with the Chicago Bulls last season. He’s become like family.” Griffin described Jones as a proud man who helped give his players the tools they needed to excel on the court. He said he wasn’t surprised to learn that Jones doesn’t plan on missing any games. He wasn’t a quitter and always taught the importance of not making excuses, Griffin said. As Jones enters his fourth year at Concordia, he remains optimistic that he will beat the cancer. He said he isn’t sure what he’ll be doing in five years. “But if I’m coaching basketball, I’ll be doing what I want to do, ” he said.






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