For all the Vols who have wound up in police reports, it’s good to remember that there are also the Chris Loftons of the world.
He was diagnosed with cancer only a few days after Tennessee ended its 2006-07 season with a Sweet 16 loss to Ohio State in San Antonio. Miraculously, the cancer was discovered after Lofton was picked randomly following the first-round win over Long Beach State to submit to an NCAA-mandated drug test. The results turned up positive, and Tennessee officials weren’t notified until the day of the Ohio State game.
Amazingly, Lofton went through the entire ordeal — the surgery, radiation treatments, recovery and excruciating emotional distress — with very few people knowing.
It’s the way he wanted it. An intensely private person, he internalized everything and was hell-bent on nobody being able to make excuses for him.
“That’s just the way he is: a no-excuses kind of fella,” said Lofton’s father, Franklin. “The worst part for us was not being down there with him and everything he was going through, but that’s the way Chris wanted it. He knew if we were down there in Knoxville all the time, people would be asking questions.”
Even before I knew this story, I had a great deal of respect for Lofton due to the way he’s carried himself on and off the court and his continued humility in the face of national media attention. Throw this amazing story into the mix and you may have to come up with some brand new word to cover the guts and character that Lofton has shown during his time at UT.