Memphis junior Karim Sameh Azab has died after a nine-month battle with leukemia, the school announced Thursday.
He was 22 years old.
“The University of Memphis is deeply saddened by the passing of Karim Azab,” Memphis President M. David Rudd said in a statement. “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.”
Azab experienced discomfort in his shoulder last March, and it ultimately led to his diagnosis. He had been undergoing treatment. He was awarded the Coach Dave Loos MVP Award “celebrates those who eude strength, perseverance and determination in the fight against cancer.” It is named for former Memphis player and assistant Dave Loos.
The 6-foot-10 Azab came from Giza, Egypt to attend high school in North Carolina. He also played for the Egyptian National Team in the FIBA Africa U18 team in 2014, winning a gold medal.
He sat out the 2016-17 season at Memphis while awaiting NCAA clearance and appeared in 15 games last season for the Tigers.
“It is with great sadness and personal heartache that we mourn the passing of Karim Azab,’ Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. “Karim was a wonderful young man who was excited to be a part of the University of Memphis and Tiger basketball. My prayers and thoughts go out to Karim’s parents and family.”