Memphis forward Karim Sameh Azab dies of leukemia at 22

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis basketball player Karim Sameh Azab died Thursday, seven months after announcing he had leukemia. He was 22.

Athletic department spokeswoman Tammy DeGroff said a school athletic official was with the family when Azab died in Memphis.

“The University of Memphis is deeply saddened by the passing of Karim Azab,” University of Memphis President M. David Rudd said in a statement. “It is never easy when someone so young has their life cut short. Karim showed great courage battling with tremendous fight and determination. He was proud of being a Tiger, and Karim will be missed immensely.

“Our thoughts are with his family, as well as his friends, teammates and fellow UofM students, faculty and staff. The spirit of Karim will never be forgotten at the University of Memphis.”

From Giza, Egypt, Azab played 15 games for Memphis last season as a reserve. The 6-foot-10 forward had a total of 15 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

School officials said Azab experienced shoulder discomfort as Memphis prepared for last season’s American Athletic Conference tournament. That led to a diagnosis of leukemia lymphoma.

Azab announced his diagnosis April 21 on social media. He wrote in a Twitter post at the time that he has “started treatment and am working through the process, but I wanted to spread the word and ask for prayers to help strengthen me in this journey.”

Azab received the annual Coach Dave Loos MVP Award at the Tennessee Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Reception earlier this year in Nashville, Tennessee. The award is named after former Austin Peay coach Dave Loos and honors “those who exude strength, perseverance and determination in the fight against cancer.”

Memphis coach Penny Hardaway accepted the award on Azab’s behalf.

Azab attended Pace Academy in Carrboro, North Carolina, and played for Bull City Prep near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, during the 2014-15 season. He transferred to Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago for his senior season.

He came to Memphis in 2016, but sat out the 2016-17 season awaiting NCAA clearance.

“It is with great sadness and personal heartache that we mourn the passing of Karim Azab,” Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said in a statement. “Karim was a wonderful young man who was excited to be a part of the University of Memphis and Tiger basketball. My prayers and thoughts go out to Karim’s parents and family.”


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