Former Butler star Andrew Smith, a key player on Brad Stevens’ team that went to the national title game in successive years, died on Tuesday from cancer. He was 25.
His wife, Samantha, confirmed his death on Tuesday afternoon.
Smith’s father Curt said in a statement: “Andrew packed more living into his 25 years than most of us will enjoy in a full 75 years. He lived his faith, relished his family, selflessly served his wife, and pursued his passion of basketball at the highest levels.”
Butler University said: “The Butler community is profoundly sad today with the news of Andrew’s passing.
“He gave his all, all the time. As an academic all-American, he represented the best of Butler in the classroom and on the court. He is, was, and always will be a Bulldog. The Butler community is proud to have been part of his life, and our thoughts are with his wife, Samantha; his parents, Debbie and Curt; and the rest of his family.”
The 6ft 11in Smith was a freshman reserve on the 2010 team, and started as a sophomore on the 2011 squad. Smith scored five points and grabbed nine rebounds in the loss to UConn in the title game. He spent two more seasons at Butler, then played professionally in Lithuania. He returned home to Indiana in 2013 and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January 2014.
In July 2014, he went into cardiac arrest and spent three days in a coma. Smith had a bone marrow transplant in November and on December 7, Samantha Smith wrote that the transplant had failed and the lymphoma had turned into leukaemia.
Smith attended Butler’s December 19 game in Indianapolis, where the Bulldogs defeated Purdue.
Stevens, now the head coach of the Boston Celtics, did not attend his team’s game last Thursday in Chicago and instead went to visit Smith in the hospital in Indianapolis.