The annual Coaches vs. Cancer event will carry some greater significance Wednesday night at Value City Arena.
Before Ohio State tips off against Purdue on Wednesday night, the Buckeyes will hold a moment of silence for Tyler Trent, the late Purdue student who passed away Jan. 2 after a fight with bone cancer at age 20. Trent was an inspiration with his unrelentingly positive attitude and outlook despite facing a daily life-or-death struggle, and multiple Big Ten teams have found ways to pay tribute to him throughout the men’s basketball season.
“I think it’s appropriate in many ways that we also recognize Tyler Trent and his battle,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said Tuesday. “What an inspiration he was. I had a chance when I was on the road a couple weeks ago to watch his funeral service and if you’ve had a chance to watch that, it was incredibly inspirational, as was his life. With Purdue coming in and all that he meant to the Purdue community and how inspirational he was to not only them but so many in the Big Ten, this is certainly appropriate for us to have a moment of silence and recognize him and everyone who’s struggling in some capacity.”
Coaches vs. Cancer is a nationwide collaboration between the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society that encourages all coaches to wear sneakers to raise awareness in the fight against cancers of all kinds.
Holtmann said he lost two grandparents to cancer and that his mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor. In his profession, he’s been close to several players who have been impacted by the disease including a high-profile one at Butler when Andrew Smith battled first non-Hodgkin lymphoma and later leukemia before passing away in 2016 at the age of 25.
Smith played at Butler from 2009-13 and Holtmann didn’t arrive on campus until 2014, but the two quickly became familiar.
“When you’re in this business you coach kids that have been affected by it in a really close and personal way,” he said. “His fight was really a personal thing for all of us because it was in our second year there that he had to come back from playing overseas and it was right there in front of us, his daily battle.
“(I also) recruited a player at Butler whose dad, I got to know the family extremely well and dad had brain cancer and passed away in less than a year after that. Those are times where you’re reminded of just how universal this struggle is. We all know this is a fight that some of us face in some capacity, so we’re looking forward to supporting that cause.”