• Penny Hardaway reacts to UofM basketball player losing battle with leukemia


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A basketball player for the University of Memphis died Thursday nine months after being diagnosed with leukemia. 

    University officials confirmed that Karim Sameh Azab, 22, died from the disease Thursday. 

    According to a release from the UofM, it started in April when Azab had discomfort in his shoulders prior to the Tigers’ AAC tournament game in Orlando in March. That led to the diagnosis of leukemia lymphoma. 

    Azab announced the diagnosis on April 21 on social media. 

    After his initial diagnosis, Azab posted the news on his Twitter account. He said, in part, “I have started treatment and am working through the process, but I wanted to spread the word and ask for your prayers to help strengthen me in this journey."

    Hardaway said the players are having a tough time coping with the loss. He said Azab’s teammates were in tears when he broke the news to players.

    He said the way Azab fought the disease taught his teammates a valuable lesson about perseverance.

    “It’s a tough situation, he fought so hard, all he wanted to do is play basketball,” Hardaway said. “Just to know that he fought through 5 different levels of leukemia and that’s a guy that stepped out and fought and now he’s in heaven, we’re just going to remember him and keep fighting hard.”

    UofM President M. David Rudd released a statement following Azab’s death. 

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    “The University of Memphis is deeply saddened by the passing of Karim Azab," said Rudd. "It is never easy when someone so young has their life cut short. Karim showed great courage battling with tremendous fight and determination. He was proud of being a Tiger, and Karim will be missed immensely. 

    “Our thoughts are with his family, as well as his friends, teammates and fellow UofM students, faculty and staff. The spirit of Karim will never be forgotten at the University of Memphis."

    A native of Giza, Egypt, Azab spent the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons with the Tigers. 

    He played in 15 games last season, finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocks. 

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