ABC News’ John Schriffen reports:
Louisville’s win against Michigan in Monday night’s NCAA championship game was a big one for Luke Hancock, especially because his ailing father, Bill Hancock, was able to attend.
“Having my dad in the stands, it was unbelievable,” Hancock said. “It meant more to me than he has any idea or anyone knows. Just being able to see him there. He really didn’t have enough strength to stand up and yell and cheer, but just the fact that he was in the building really choked me up running out on the court and just seeing him there. … It was amazing.”
On Monday night, Luke Hancock calmly stepped off the bench and quickly shot into the spotlight — the unlikely hero of the big game — to help the Cardinals rally, 82-76, for the national title.
He became the first player not in the starting lineup to ever win the most outstanding player award, according to the NCAA. He finished the game with 22 points.
“If you’re making a movie,” Luke Hancock told ABC News, “it would be tough to put in all the good parts.”
Bill Hancock traveled to Atlanta from Roanoke, Va., to watch his son play — it was a trip that not many thought was possible. The family has opted not to disclose Bill Hancock’s illness.
Luke Hancock said his father was his best friend. The family saved up to pay his way through preparatory school — the springboard to a basketball scholarship and a spot on the Cardinals team. He told ABC News that his father had not been to too many games or NCAA tournaments but that he’d always encouraged his son to shoot and score points.
“My family means everything to me,” Luke Hancock said today. “They’ve done everything for me, to put me in my position, to be where I am, to be successful. … It’s hard to put into words.”
Today, Hancock returned to Louisville with his teammates, along with a piece of the championship net just for his dad.
“I had it [the net] in my hand” after the game, he said. “And I was so excited to give him a hug and just be there with him and I just left it in my hand. … I’m going home this summer, though, and that’ll be the first thing that I do, just give him the piece of the net. … That’ll be something special.”
ESPN contributed to this story.