Former NCAA player comes to Final Four to carry on teammate's legacy

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Chase Stigall donated bone marrow to a 2-year-old Chase Stigall donated bone marrow to a 2-year-old
Chase Stigall encouraged NCAA players to join the bone marrow registry Chase Stigall encouraged NCAA players to join the bone marrow registry
Chase Stigall is carrying on his teammate's legacy Chase Stigall is carrying on his teammate's legacy
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

This weekend isn't only marking a special moment for the Valley. It's also giving a former NCAA player a chance to make a difference off the court. 

Chase Stigall played basketball for Butler University. But last year, his teammate, Andrew Smith, died of leukemia. Now Stigall is carrying in his friend's legacy and trying to save as many lives as possible in the process. 

"We went to the Final Four, two times, 2010 and 2011; myself and him, both started in the 2011 Final Four," Stigall said. That year, Stigall and Smith made it all the way to the Championship game with their Butler Bulldogs. Even though they didn't win, the bond between them was unbreakable. 

"Andrew and I got to graduate together," he said. "We got to start our careers together. He was fortunate enough to go overseas and continue playing professionally and then he got sick and had to come home."

Smith, only 25, died in January of 2016 after battling leukemia. Before his tragic death, he tried to get as many people as possible on the bone marrow registry.

"I got signed up and by April of that year, I got matched with a 2-year-old boy," Stigall said. He said they took the marrow out of his lower back, and he only missed a day of work.

"You get bumps and bruises harder in practice than what it felt like during the recovery process," Stigall said. He's here in Phoenix to talk to players, making an appearance at big events like the Slam Dunk and 3-Point Championship, to encourage entire teams to sign up. 

"One in every 430 people that are on the registry get matched to somebody, so there's a very slim chance that that happens," Stigall said. 

He added the more people who are signed up, the better chance patients have at getting the help they need. 

"Somebody gets blood cancer every 3 minutes, and we need people to sign up," he said.

For more information or to sign up, check out BeTheMatch.org.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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