Last spring Andrew Smith wrapped up a four-year career at Butler, averaging 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a senior for a program that made three NCAA tournament appearances during his time at the school. For his career Smith, who played just under five minutes per game as a freshman, averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
The improvements made throughout his college career put Andrew in a position where he could play professionally, landing a contract with BC Neptunas, a professional team in Lithuania. But Smith’s time with the team was cut short for health reasons, as he was diagnosed with non-Hodgskin’s lymphoma after playing just five games for BC Neptunas.
But an adventure that was supposed to kick off our marriage into a whirlwind of experience and culture was cut short when we were sat down at our kitchen table in Lithuania and were told there was a sizable tumor taking shape inside of Andrew. Shock, dismay, sadness, fear, and an emergency flight home were our next 36 hours. We had dreamt of the joyous day of setting foot on US ground once again, but this is certainly not what we had pictured. It was hard to be excited about reuniting with our loved ones because we knew that those hugs would be brief before heading straight to the hospital from O’Hare.
Smith finished his Butler career ranked in the top 25 of the school’s all-time scoring (25th) and rebounding (12th) lists. News of Smith’s diagnosis resulting in an outpouring of support, with members of the Butler community including former coaches and teammates and former competitors (including Xavier head coach Chris Mack and Indiana head coach Tom Crean) sending out positive messages via Twitter.