The Iowa basketball team will wear special warm-up shirts prior to Thursday night’s game against Purdue to honor the memory of Tyler Trent, a Purdue student who attracted national attention with his fight against a rare form of bone cancer.
Trent died Tuesday at the age of 20.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said his players wanted to wear the shirts and he was wholeheartedly behind it. He and his wife, Margaret, are very active in raising funds for the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer program in Iowa City.
“I think when you look at him and the way he handled himself throughout an incredibly difficult ordeal for his family and the way his family handled it, the way the Purdue people handled it was so inspiring to others that are going through the same thing,’’ McCaffery said of Trent. “To think about not only the difficulty but the pain he was going through and to be so incredibly positive all the time and always have a smile on his face, we felt it was something we wanted to honor.’’
Trent first attracted attention in September 2017 when he camped outside Ross-Ade Stadium to get tickets for Purdue’s football game against Michigan even though he had undergone chemotherapy for the treatment of osteosarcoma the previous day.
That was the beginning of a relationship he forged with football coach Jeff Brohm and the entire Purdue football team, especially quarterback David Blough.
Trent became a social media star after that. He was featured during the television broadcast of Purdue’s victory over Ohio State this season and he was the team’s honorary bowl captain for the Boilermakers’ game against Auburn in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl last week.
With the help of the Twitter hashtag #TylerStrong, he assisted in the raising of more than $100,000 in cancer research over the past few months.
"While there are no words to ease the hurt at times like this, we hope some comfort can be found in knowing what an inspiration Tyler is to our student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans," Brohm wrote in a message on Twitter on Tuesday night. "The entire Purdue Athletics family has been touched by his courageous battle, positive spirit and unwavering faith. Tyler was the embodiment of a true Boilermaker who will live on in each of us. We will forever be #TylerStrong."