Karl continues natural role as Hoops For St. Jude ambassador
Children's cancer hospital is close to heart for Nuggets coach, cancer survivor
The NBA’s Hoops For St. Jude week concludes Friday.
The campaign is never-ending for Nuggets coach George Karl.
Karl, a two-time cancer survivor, is a longtime ambassador for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. The hospital provides treatment to young cancer patients at no cost to their families.
“We have a tremendous network of great children’s hospitals in America and the world, but St. Jude has taken on a challenge and turned into a leader in the field of children’s cancer,” Karl said. “They don’t charge one family one dollar, and they get the toughest cases in the world. They’re constantly giving miracles to these kids.”
Joining Karl as NBA ambassadors during Hoops For St. Jude week are Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love, Memphis Grizzlies forwards Rudy Gay, Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol and Golden State Warriors forward David Lee.
Karl, who is nearly two years removed from treatment for head and neck cancer, tries to visit St. Jude when the Nuggets travel to Memphis each season. Regardless of how his team is playing, the visits always provide a sense of perspective.
“It’s a moving experience,” Karl said. “When you go there, you hang out with the kids. You go in the wards and see what the doctors are doing. It’s a pretty impressive place. The karma of it’s pretty strong.”
It costs an estimated $1.7 million per day to operate St. Jude, with more than 75 percent of the funding coming from the public through programs such as Hoops For St. Jude.
Karl recently launched a charitable foundation, with advocacy groups and hospitals such as St. Jude in mind.
“I had a dream that the first cure for cancer is going to come out of St. Jude,” Karl said. “That’s the karma I feel from that building and that city.”
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for Nuggets.com, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...