Appreciation for all of life’s gifts

The elite brackets are full of ex-college players and even pros, but it’s always a nice surprise when a familiar old name surfaces on one of the witness-protection courts on the fringes of the Hoopfest map.

Rob Otis certainly didn’t mind playing in the little parking lot next to the Spokane Arena. Simply playing was good enough.

He was not quite 20 years removed from his days as a thumper on Eastern Washington’s first Division I team to win 20 games. More telling, he was barely eight months clear of an extreme course of chemotherapy after he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma. There had also been surgeries to remove part of his small intestine and his appendix. He had lost 40 pounds, most of his hair and, on occasion, almost the ability to speak. But in October of 2001, doctors declared they couldn’t find any traces of the cancer.

“Just feeling the rain hitting you in the face and watching everybody play ball is great,” he said. “It does change your outlook on life.”

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