Memphis forward announces cancer diagnosis on social media
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Memphis forward Karim Sameh Azab announced Saturday that he has been diagnosed with cancer and has started treatment.
"I found out a few weeks ago that I had developed leukemia lymphoma (AML, ALL)," Azab wrote in a Twitter post Saturday morning. "I have since started treatment and am working through the process, but I wanted to spread the word and ask for prayers to help strengthen me in this journey."
AML is acute myeloid leukemia and ALL is acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Both are cancers of the bone marrow and blood cells that can progress rapidly without treatment.
Memphis announced in March that Azab had started medical treatment for an unspecified illness. Azab is a 6-foot-10, 270-pound sophomore from Giza, Egypt, who played 15 games this past season coming off the bench. Eligibility issues sidelined him during the 2016-17 season.
Tubby Smith, who was fired in March, told The Commercial Appeal that Azab first said he had discomfort in a shoulder going into the American Athletic Conference tournament. Smith said he learned of Azab's diagnosis after his firing and has visited him in the hospital.
"He's with the best medical people probably in the country there in Memphis, so we just pray that he's going to be fine and he'll overcome this," Smith said from a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League event in Texas. "He's such a kind person (and) caring with his teammates."
Smith said a Memphis attorney worked with Azab and the university to help his parents travel from Egypt to visit him. Greg Jones, Azab's legal guardian since arriving in the United States, confirmed to The Commercial Appeal in a text message that Azab's parents are with him now in Memphis.
Azab was a late arrival as part of Smith's initial recruiting class and did not play during the 2016-17 season because of NCAA eligibility issues.
Coach Penny Hardaway, hired to replace Smith at Memphis on March 20, also has visited Azab at the hospital. Hardaway also is in Texas at the Nike event.
"It's just an unfortunate situation and I pray for the kid," Hardaway said.
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Updated April 21, 2018