EKU men's basketball coach A.W. Hamilton beats cancer

Eastern Kentucky men's basketball head coach A.W. Hamilton talks with his team during a timeout against in-state rival Western Kentucky last season in Richmond. Hamilton was named the OVC Coach of the Year last year. 

Eastern Kentucky University’s men’s head basketball coach A.W. Hamilton shared his powerful story of how he beat cancer in a video posted by EKU Athletics on Aug. 18.

“I felt obligated to tell my story. Nine out of the last ten years I have been living a dream,” Hamilton said.

He explained that he is living his dream of being a head basketball coach.

Since being a coach, he has led his teams to 266 victories, with only 57 losses. Since leading the Colonels, Hamilton guided EKU to 12 Ohio Valley Conference wins last season, which is the second most in school history. He said he has always wanted to be a basketball coach.

“June 12th changed my life,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton's brother-in-law, Steve Lepore, had a stroke over the summer. He explained how his brother-in-law, who is also an assistant coach on the EKU team, was healthy and had nothing wrong with him. The fact they are the same age, made Hamilton decide to go have a physical done. He had not had one since 2004 when he played basketball at Marshall University. 

Hamilton went to his appointment for a physical, he told his doctor about a mole he had on the back of his ear. The doctor checked it out and sent him to a dermatologist.

When he went to the dermatologist, they took a biopsy of it. The dermatologist told him that it would be nothing to worry about.

Hamilton said a few days went by and he got a call saying he needed to come back in because he had Stage II Melanoma cancer.

“All I could think about is my cousin who died when he was 13 from Melanoma,” Hamilton said.

When he went in, the oncologist said that he would need to have surgery to remove the tumor that had grown in his ear and rooted itself. He said he was shocked because he never felt sick and was healthy.

“I asked the doctor what this meant for me,” Hamilton said.

The oncologist told him that he would have a PET scan and then have surgery to remove the tumor, in order to see if it had spread.

“During that time, July was the longest month of my life,” Hamilton said.

Before surgery, Hamilton had so many thoughts of the worst possible outcomes of the situation. Mainly being, whether or not he would get to see his children grow up or have to tell his wife, Chelsea, goodbye.

Hamilton said, “All of my life I’ve been huge on setting goals.” 

Hamilton explained that he sets goals for himself every day and wants to win the Ohio Valley Conference Championship and the NCAA National Championship.

“I want to write a best selling book and be a nationally known motivational speaker and strengthen my relationship with God,” Hamilton said.

When he went in for surgery, the doctor removed the tumor and his lymph nodes.

“There was a 10 day window where I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said.

While this was going on, he explained that he had to sit down and write new goals for himself. 

“My goals were to beat cancer, tell my story and to save someone else’s life, like someone saved mine,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said he has no feeling in his ear and never will, but he is cancer free. 

From this experience, Hamilton has set new goals and encourages everyone to keep up with their health and go get physicals done. 

He feels lucky to be able to tell his story so that he can save someone else's life and be an example to others.

Hamilton ended by saying, “If you take anything from this is that God is great and he has a plan for each and every one of us.”

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