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Inspirational story fuels a comeback for ASU men's basketball

The Sun Devils had some extra motivation in their win over the Cardinal

The ASU men's basketball team celebrates after defeating the University of Stanford in a men's basketball game in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. ASU won 75-69. (Josh Orcutt/State Press)
The ASU men's basketball team celebrates after defeating the University of Stanford in a men's basketball game in Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017. ASU won 75-69. (Josh Orcutt/State Press)

After ASU men's basketball's 75-69 victory over Stanford on Saturday night, head coach Bobby Hurley said his team showed "heart and courage" and "played like it was their last game" to overcome a nine-point deficit.

That comeback may have been inspired by a speech given to the team before the game on Thursday — and it wasn't from Hurley.

Shane Green, who currently lives in Chicago, addressed the Sun Devils after practice, telling the story of his twin brother Shawn, who fought and passed away from cancer. Hurley had previously shared the Greens' story with the team.

"Life's about competing, and my brother competed until his last day," Shane Green told reporters after Saturday's game. "It's indicative of the situation they were in — down, they battled back and then Torian (Graham) hit that big shot. It's about not giving up and playing until that last second."

The brothers bonded over basketball for the entirety Shawn's life, including in his final weeks. Shane said he and his brother grew up watching Hurley play and wanted to emulate his game. In the weeks before Shawn's passing, Hurley talked with Green brothers on FaceTime.

"It was as if we'd known him our whole life," Shane said. "(Shawn) didn't show a lot of emotion in the last part of his life, but after we hung up there was some emotion showed.

"For (Hurley) to take time out of his schedule, early in the season in the middle of a tournament .... It means the world to us."

Emotion was at the heart of the Sun Devils' comeback against the Cardinal. One of the loudest Wells Fargo Arena crowds of the season cheered them on the whole way. Shane was part of that crowd as he sat courtside, watching the man he and his brother idolized for so many years. 

Shane said he knew Shawn was watching Saturday night, and he would have loved to have met coach Hurley in person.

"This was a really special weekend for our family," Shane said.

The impact of the Greens' story was evident on and off the court for the Sun Devils. Junior point guard Tra Holder went out of his way to address the speech at the postgame press conference, saying it provided perspective for him and his teammates.

"I think we all play for someone," Holder said. "We knew that we couldn't take any games for granted — let alone life."


Reach the reporter at rclarke6@asu.edu or follow @RyanTClarke on Twitter.

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