Memphis basketball player Karim Sameh Azab died Thursday after an eight-month battle with leukemia, a university spokesman confirmed.
Azab, 22, announced in April that he had been diagnosed with leukemia after the 2017-18 regular season.
Former Memphis coach Tubby Smith told The Commercial Appeal in April that Azab began complaining of discomfort in his shoulder leading into the Tigers’ appearance in the American Athletic Conference tournament. Smith was then informed of Azab’s illness, after he had been fired by Memphis.
According to Greg Jones, Azab’s legal guardian when he came to the United States ahead of his junior year of high school, Azab felt a lump underneath his armpit ahead of the AAC tournament, and that it was why he did not appear in any games there.
Jones said doctors officially diagnosed Azab with Stage IV cancer during Final Four weekend last April and told him he would survive only six months if he did not begin treatment immediately.
Azab, who is from Giza, Egypt, had his parents in Memphis with him as he received medical care in recent months.
“The one thing I will remember most about Karim is his smile, his personality and just how he just embraced life,” Jones said Thursday night. “He was a person that never took anything for granted. He always gave 100 percent … toward everything he did. He didn’t have much, but he would give you the shirt off his back if he had to.”
Jones said he hopes Azab’s story will inspire others facing similar circumstances.
“I hope he will be remembered for just being a gentle giant,” Jones said.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Drew Hill and Mark Giannotto