Andrew Smith helped lead Butler basketball to two consecutive NCAA championship games in 2010 and 2011, but after graduating, he became ill and in January 2016 lost a two-year battle with cancer.
In Sunday’s SportsCenter “SC Featured” segment, viewers will see how Smith’s legacy lives on through Project 44, a program he and his wife Samantha inspired while Andrew was undergoing treatment. As narrator Tom Rinaldi explains, Andrew and Samantha’s dedication to the project, and the generosity of one of Andrew’s Butler teammates, saved the life of a young Ohio boy.
“During Andrew’s treatment, he and Samantha learned more about the bone marrow transplant process, and that spurred them to want to champion that cause,” said Lauren Stowell, producer of the piece for ESPN Features. “Even while he was alive and fighting, he was holding bone marrow drives at Butler.
“But what is most remarkable part of this story for me – through all of that grief and tragedy that Samantha went through, she was able to find something positive in that moment, and she held a bone marrow drive at her husband’s funeral.”
That was when Andrew’s former teammate, Chase Stigall, stepped up to be a donor, and he became the first match for Project 44. His marrow was used to save the life of two-year-old Deegan Scott of Salem, Ohio.
In the feature, Deegan, now four and healthy, meets Samantha and Stigall. A few months later, Deegan comes to a Butler game in Indianapolis and meets players, sees photos of Andrew’s career and becomes part of the Butler family.
“When people watch this, I hope they can draw inspiration from the way Andrew and Sam were able to turn what they were facing into something that could positively affect other people,” said Stowell.
The feature will debut in the 8 a.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Sunday and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.