Cancer patient, 13, who connected with Kentucky basketball players dies

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

UPDATE: On Wednesday night, just before 8 p.m., Lane Goodwin died. Just incredibly tragic and devastatingly concidental, given the timing of this post a few hours before his death. Lane's cause and fight had become so popular in the past two years, and just as he was becoming an icon for the fight against child's cancer, the disease took him away. Impossibly sobering.

Lane Goodwin is a 13-year-old Kentucky boy who is dying of cancer. It's unbearably sad, and even researching his story for this post welled me up.

The good that has come out of Lane's situation is the Thumbs Up for Lane campaign, which has brought a lot of attention to children's cancer. The boy's dire situation has catalyzed a movement that has gone global.

If you're unfamiliar with the Thumbs Up for Lane campaign, find out more here. And know that everyone from musicians to Louisville players to people filling churches to teams still in the Major League Baseball playoffs are supporting Lane in myriad ways. It's inspiration bordering on positive mania. If this kind of goodwill could fight cancer, we'd never lose another child to the disease.

Just look at this video. It's not even at 300 views on YouTube. But it's Evansville's submission of support for Lane. There are bundles more like this on YouTube. (Search "Thumbs Up for Lane," and the column of results will occupy you through the end of the week.) It's remarkable. This is so simple and so effective. I hope he has gotten a chance to see it.

Kentucky basketball in particular is one of Lane's biggest passions -- along with the St. Louis Cardinals. And the program has supported the boy and his cause for years now. Most recently, Kentucky basketball and so many around Lane wanted to get him to attend Kentucky's Big Blue Madness, about three hours away from his home in McLean County. He had tickets for him and his family. Fact is, he's too sick -- the cancer has now spread to his brain -- and he couldn't make it.

But Kentucky and freshman five-star recruit Nerlens Noel made the best of it. Noel has been connecting with Lane lately, as have Kentucky players from the past couple of years. It's the most heartwarming thing that I've seen in college basketball in some time. I feel I'm not even doing the story justice by posting a mere update.

When Lane couldn't make it to Big Blue Madness, one of his friends, Reese Kemp, went for him -- and took Lane's younger brother, Landen. Reese is also sick, with cystic fibrosis. As you can see in the video at the top of the post, Reese and Landen had quite the opportunity and experience. They were escorted by limo and did what they could to let Lane live vicariously through his brother.

Here's how it was set up, with Noel talking to Lane in the days leading up to the event.

Heavy, heartwarming and heartbreaking. Ultimately, this is the best in terms of sports' power and celebrity. Thoughts with Lane and his family. Keep fighting -- and I'm glad you've already received something that many miss out on in their lifetime: witnessing championship seasons for your two favorite teams within a few months of each other.

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