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Liguori: A Positive L.A. Clippers Story

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

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By Ann Liguori
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We in the media, all too often, tend to focus on stories that are not the most positive. Too often the headlines in the sports pages dwell on scandals and controversy.  But when I come across a story that is positive and deserves attention, I will write or talk about it.

And so when I read about four current and former players for the Los Angeles Clippers  – Corey Maggette, Marko Jaric, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand, who paid for former LA Clippers’ assistant coach Kim Hughes’ medical coverage after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer seven years ago, I knew immediately I had to share the story. Apparently his Clippers’ medical coverage would not pay for the life-saving surgery.

Immediately, the following questions come to mind:

Why wouldn’t an assistant coach in the NBA get medical coverage? Why wouldn’t management step up and cover this? And why did it take seven years for this story to come out?

Gery Woelfel interviewed Kim Hughes and his story ran in the Wisconsin Journal Times, RacineSportsZone.com recently.(http://journaltimes.com/sports/bucks/article_efc79902-4ebd-11e0-8c1b-001cc4c002e0.html)

Hughes recalled the story for Woelfel and was quoted in the article: “I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn’t be covered.” Hughes continued: “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And they said if they did it for one person, they’d have to do for everybody else.” (How lame is that, I ask!?)

After the four NBA players found out about Hughes’ situation from then Clippers head coach Mike Dunleavy, they decided to pay for his surgery themselves. Hughes had the surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and it cost around $70,000.

Corey Maggette was quoted in Woelfel’s story: “Kim was one of our coaches and he’s a really good friend of mine, too.” Maggette continued, “He was in a situation where the Clippers’ medical coverage wouldn’t cover his surgery. I thought it was a great opportunity to help someone in need, to do something that Christ would do…It shows your humanity, that you care for other people and not just yourself. Kim was in a life-and-death situation.”

The story continues to say that after a biopsy was taken, Hughes found out that his prostate cancer was much worse than he believed and that the cancer had quickly spread. Had Hughes delayed the surgery, and if Maggette and his teammates hadn’t provided the necessary financial assistance, Hughes doesn’t know what would have occurred.

Hughes told Woelfel: “Those guys saved my life. They paid the whole medical bill.”

Professional athletes often get criticized for a number of reasons but when they do nice things for others, and dare to be positive role models, they deserve the attention!

Where are they now? Chris Kamen is the only one still with the Clippers. Marko Jaric’s last season with the Memphis Grizzlies was 2008-2009. Most basketball fans know he is married to Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima and they had a baby girl last year. Elton Brand plays for the Philadelphia 76ers. Corey Maggette is with the Milwaukee Bucks. Mike Dunleavy was fired as Clippers’ head coach in 2010. Hughes served as an interim coach for the Los Angeles Clippers for a short time in the 2010 season before getting released.  Back in the ‘70’s, Hughes played college ball at University of Wisconsin, hence perhaps the connection to the Wisconsin Journal Times.

Brand and Maggette both played college ball for Duke University which is a testament to the fine program that Coach K runs, on and off the court, no doubt helping to teach his athletes what truly matters in life – helping others – and daring to be leaders and positive, contributing members to society!

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Be sure to visit Ann’s web site at www.annliguori.com and order her interviews on DVD with top personalities in sports.