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Originally published November 30, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated November 30, 2009 at 11:56a.m.

KU coach Self perks up ailing Texas youth

Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self addresses the media in this March 2009 file photo.

Kansas University men’s basketball coach Bill Self addresses the media in this March 2009 file photo.

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Quade Towers, a 9-year-old Kansas University basketball fan and standout youth-league player from Austin, Texas, recently received a spirit-lifting phone call from KU coach Bill Self.

Quade Towers, a 9-year-old Kansas University basketball fan and standout youth-league player from Austin, Texas, recently received a spirit-lifting phone call from the coach of his favorite team.

“I think he’s very nice — a good person and a good coach,” Quade said of Bill Self, who, “told me to feel better and come see the game when we play Texas.”

Quade, who has battled medical problems off and on for several years, has been feeling great of late and, health permitting, will be in Erwin Center for the KU-UT clash on Feb. 8.

That night he’ll be sure to visit with Self, a person he bonded with at last summer’s Bill Self basketball camp and was reacquainted with via a phone call set up by Towers’ dad, Chad, and KU staff member Barry Hinson.

Chad recently contacted the Journal-World just before the Thanksgiving holiday — not so much to tell his son’s story, he said, but to explain how much the coach’s kindness has meant to his son and the entire family.

“Bill Self is a welcoming, genuine and see-it-through type of individual who is outstanding at being himself,” Chad Towers said. “It just so happens he is also a superb basketball coach. I think he really helped our family ... Bill Self the man, not the coach. I can see why he signs the No. 1 recruiting class year after year. He’s a real person.”

Chad became emotional when discussing a 10-minute conversation between Self and Quade at last June’s camp in Lawrence.

In providing some background, it should be noted Quade before the age of 2 was stricken with a rare chronic lung and airways disease. He’s had stomach surgery and multiple procedures/surgeries in an attempt to halt the deterioration of his lungs.

“It was the first day of camp. When coach Self walked into the gym, I was just happening to be standing by the door, and he extended his hand and introduced himself. Wow, what a super, down-to-earth man,” Chad Towers said. “Just a few minutes earlier, my son was told to be ‘skins’ in his very first scrimmage. He was upset because of his multiple scars on his stomach and across his lung region.

“I casually shared with coach Self — because he actually asked which one was mine — that Quade was a little upset about being ‘skins’ and told him of his surgeries.”

What Self did next simply floored dad Chad.

“Before he went to go sit with my son, coach Self pulled up his shirt and showed me a remarkable 16-inch scar on his stomach as he proudfully winked to me he would share a story with my son,” Chad Towers said. “From there, he went across the court and pulled my son aside and took a genuine interest in him and spent a sound five to 10 minutes with him. As I saw later through the week, five minutes is a lot when people all want a piece of the coach.”

Self, who had abdominal surgery in the spring of 2004, indeed showed Quade his scar.

“Coach raised his shirt. Thank goodness it didn’t scare the kid,” Hinson, KU’s director of external relations, joked. “Coach was saying, ‘Don’t feel bad about it. Hey, even big guys have scars, too.’’’

“I think mine was a bit bigger than his,” Self said, adding, “I remember he’s a nice kid and comes from a great family. And I hear he’s doing well. It’s not because of anything we did. We’re pleased to hear he’s doing well.”

Quade performed quite well at the camp and has taken some of the things he learned back to his youth league in Texas. Unfortunately, in late September, Quade, who had been feeling well, came down with the swine flu and pneumonia.

A hematologist ordered a blood transfusion for Quade, who recovered quickly.

However, his dad said his son’s “spirits were poor because he was sick of the hospital and tired of having an IV in each arm and stuck in the same bed.”

That’s when Chad contacted Hinson. After three or four missed connections, Hinson was able to put Self on the line with Quade.

“There were a lot of things going on at that time,” Chad said of the time of the fights between the KU basketball and football teams, “but coach Self still made time to talk to Quade. A lot of coaches would have said, ‘Oh well, I tried twice,’ and forgotten about it. Coach Hinson and Self didn’t give up until they got through to him. It says a lot about the man.”

Hinson said Self, “didn’t like it, he loved talking to Quade again.”

“I’d say it’s one of the best things of being a basketball coach or person in a leadership capacity. Because you are working at a school like Kansas, with its tradition and history, you have the opportunity to brighten someone’s day. For me to tell you that coach does that on a rare basis would be far from the truth. It happens literally on a daily basis,” Hinson noted.

“It could be through phone calls, e-mails, personal letters, personal visits to the hospital, visits to a school … this is something that literally floods his calendar. I can tell you he’s been doing it his whole life. It’s part of his daily walk. People ask me all the time, what makes this guy so special? I answer in two words: ‘He cares.’ Same with our players. They do a lot of things for people as well.”

As far as the recipient of this one kind deed, he sees big things for Self, Hinson and the Jayhawks this season.

“I think,” Quade said excitedly, “they might win the national championship.”

Comments

suttonku 5 years ago

What a great kid, hope Quade gets better...Self is an amazing coach but too much we forget about the man he is off the court as well.

NH_JHawk 4 years, 12 months ago

Great story. A much needed breath of fresh air as of late. Keep on fighting Quade. Maybe someday you'll be a Jayhawk!

yates33333 4 years, 12 months ago

kcphantom (anonymous) says... Two words: Class Act

YES!!

Keep fighting Quade, but you already are a Jayhawk.

Can't Quade get a lung transplant later?

exiledhawkfan 4 years, 12 months ago

we are beyond fortunate to have this man as coach of our basketball team. here's hoping that we are blessed to have him retire a jayhawk in many, many years.

Steve Brown 4 years, 12 months ago

phantom: that's right CLASS ACT.

who was the blond haired kid in a chair that (was it Larry Brown) have sit with the team. He was inspirational and put a focus on life v. it's just a game.

when did we start special olympics AFH practices and games, giving to others is so important for all of us, no matter our status.

if you enjoyed this report go see the movie, The Blind Side, about a family, football and doing something good. Take the whole family. A good sports story.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 12 months ago

Now that the word has leaked out about Coach Self's contact with this kid, he'll probably have a scholarship offer to Kentucky in a couple weeks.

But seriously, this is a tremendous story, and speaks so highly of Coach Self's character. I can't imagine how a person so busy would work so hard to do these kinds of things for others. Does he ever have time to just unwind and relax at home with his family?

Lone_salina_kufan 4 years, 12 months ago

Great story! All I got to say, I better NEVER hear, "Well Self isn't one of Lew's guys.."

craigers 4 years, 12 months ago

What a great coach and man. These stories not only make me thankful he is KU's coach but don't think for a moment that these stories don't impact potential recruits families.

jaygirl193 4 years, 12 months ago

"'There were a lot of things going on at that time,' Chad said..."

Dear Gary,

Wasn't Bill Self also extremely busy travelling with the recruiting period? In fact, wasn't recruiting Self's biggest time commitment at that time? I think Chad Quade said it best the way he said it. You didn't have to add your filler by singling out one of the things that was going on, especially considering the LJW's editorial position on all things related to the football team's issues off the field. Thanks.

Kenneth Hillman 4 years, 12 months ago

GREAT story and so proud he is our coach. We are very fortunate to have such a great person and coach leading our basketball team. This type of attitude is very inspirational and contagious, thanks Coach.

anthonyzal - you are a scrooge and a jacka$$

Steve Brown 4 years, 12 months ago

anthony.s.gal: go see movie, The Blind Side. Stay for credits at the end to see the real family this story was based around.

Go home meditate and reflect where your anger comes from.

Then go to homeless shelter or habitat house or speical olympics or food kitchen or ring the salvation army bell in front of a store for an hour, (don't steal the coins)

then repost us.

nothing more import than what HCBS did for this kid...nothing. and I don't mean because it became public and enhanced our univ. image. while a grand story it wasn't done for 'the story'.

CrodieBroyle 4 years, 12 months ago

anthonyzal, the reason we lost out on John Wall is because we already have a better point guard in SC. Wall didn't pick UK because Bill was making a sick 9 year old's day/month. P.S. dont be a di*k

NebraskaJayhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

Erm...Collins is gone next year, Crodie. Nevertheless, I doubt this had anything to do with losing Wall as a recruit. This took like 10 minutes out of his day. Get real, Anthonyzal...

NebraskaJayhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

Disregard my comment. I see what you're saying Crodie.. Wall being a one and doner and all.

pb88 4 years, 12 months ago

anthonyzal. how can you be so heartless? a 5 minute phone call to a sick boy that admires coach self should never come with ridicule. how dare you. we didn't lose john wall because of passion and care. you're probably from missouri huh?

keith horinek 4 years, 12 months ago

Seems like we are living a dream. Hopefully one we will never wake up from. When Roy Williams left for unc it seemed like, at the time anyway, we had just seen the best of times. I believe we are in the best of times for KU BB fans. Note to Perkins: whatever HCBS is making, pay more $$$. One must realize HCBS will be very difficlut to replace when that day comes. Hopefuly not in several more years and several more National Championships. We trully need to be thankful for what we have as KU BB fans.

4 years, 12 months ago

Coach Self continues to show he is a real stand-up guy. We are extremely fortunate to have him.

For those who haven't seen it yet, here is a cool Q&A with Jason King and Xavier Henry:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/news;_ylt=AnuwU.3F2rBqFCoe5COvRJvevbYF?slug=jn-henryqa113009&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

gchawk 4 years, 12 months ago

Great story, reflects what a class person Coach Self is. Quade, best of luck to you, you sound like a terrific person with great parents. Please disregard "anthonyzal", most of us are convinced he's not a Jayhawk fan at all, but he is a shining example of why you don't want to give yourself a lobotomy.

FairgroveJayhawk 4 years, 12 months ago

Coach Self for president. After 9 more championships.... over the next 20 seasons.

Martin Rosenblum 4 years, 12 months ago

anthonyzal -

You are the polar opposite of Bill Self. If he is a caring and compassionate human being, you are, well.....I won't risk getting this removed with what really describes you. (It rhymes with.. trucking reece of fit, however).

Lance Hobson 4 years, 12 months ago

Gotta love these kinds of stories. Reminds me of the Ryan Gray days.

Anthonyal's comments reminded me of the movie Airplane! when the news show had a "counterpoint" editorial about the troubles the plane was having. The newscaster said "The passengers new what they were getting into. I say let 'em crash!" That was funny. Otherwise those comments are pretty rude. We don't want Bill Bellichek types representing our school. We want good people who do good things like this. It's just a call, but little acts of kindness from someone like Bill Self can really go a long way.

Lance Hobson 4 years, 12 months ago

Liked the King interview with Xavier, but do these guys ever study?

4 years, 12 months ago

Strikewso ~

Re: King interview

Funny, I was kind of wondering the same thing :^)

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