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PROJECT 44: Andrew Smith's death moved former Butler teammates to act

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Posted at 2:12 PM, Sep 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-28 14:14:49-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chase Stigall was No. 33.

A guard on the Butler Bulldogs’ men’s basketball team, Stigall played all the way to the NCAA championship game against Connecticut in 2010.

All while honoring the mantra that makes a Bulldog ... A Bulldog.

“The Butler way is serving other people -- serving other people, while showing humility,” Stigall said.

Stigall remembers the times with Andrew Smith, his teammate who died in January following his second battle with cancer.

They shared the road to the Final Four and to the National Championship game twice.

“He was a guy who always put others before himself,” Stigall said.

Stigall also remembers the unsteady times that plagued the Butler basketball team as an alum.

Like the uncertainty when coach Brad Stevens left to coach the Boston Celtics and the sudden, mysterious departure of Stevens' replacement, Brandon Miller. That void is now filled by coach Chris Holtmann.

“We're going to fight as hard as we can to maintain this program at a really national level,” Holtmann said. “And I give our guys during those moments, that tenure, a lot of credit.”

Watching Smith fight for his life really hit hard for Stigall and every other Bulldog.

“Watching his battle, his intense battle, through what they did was a testament,” Stigall said. “Andrew really was.”
Leukemia, which started as lymphoma, ultimately overcame Smith.

MORE | Help save lives through bone marrow transplanst with Be The Match

“Watching him go through what he went through made us -- made everybody that knows Andrew -- appreciate what they have,” he said.

PREVIOUS | Andrew Smith dies following battle with cancer

Smith’s death and fight with blood cancer moved his teammates to act.

“How do we serve others?” Stigall said. “How do we be humble? How do we do something out of the ordinary to help someone else? ... At Andrew's celebration of life, I was able to get signed up. And it was a simple cheek swab and some information.”

As he mourned a life lost, he was soon able to save another -- all because he made the choice to be a bone marrow donor.

“I got a call that said I could be a potential match,” he said.

He matched with a 2-year-old boy somewhere in the United States. No other information is known about the boy.

Last week, Stigall found out the boy was released from the hospital.

Smith's widow, Samantha said she’s proud that her late husband's Bulldog family is stepping up to meet the need.  

“When Chase called me [there were] obviously a lot of tears,” she said. “How beautiful a thing it was but also how excited they were to do something that meant something to Andrew.”

READ | Andrew Smith's wife: I know I'll see him again

“The most important thing that we want to come from this is that Andrew's legacy lives on,” Stigall said.

Head to Hinkle Fieldhouse Thursday from 3-7 p.m. to become a donor, or visit bethematch.org.