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Bill Hancock died Monday morning, two months after seeing his son lead Louisville to a NCAA championship.
Photo submitted by Van Hancock
Van (from left), Luke and Bill Hancock posed for a photo when Luke made the transfer from George Mason to the University of Louisville.Van (from left), Luke and Bill Hancock, posed for a photo when Luke made the transfer from George Mason to the Univerisity of Louisville. Bill Hancock died this morning at 70 after a battle with cancer.]
Photo submitted by Van Hancock
Some members of the Hancock family pose for a picture at the Final Four in April. Bill Hancock (third from right) attended his son’s Final Four games in Atlanta. The family learned in December that his cancer had spread to his bones. He was 70 years old.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
When Luke Hancock led his team to victory at the Final Four two months ago, his seriously ill father was in the stands.
But when Hancock competes this week at USA Basketball tryouts, he will do so while mourning his father’s passing.
Hancock’s father, Bill Hancock, died of cancer Monday morning at the family’s Roanoke County home, said Van Hancock, the wife of Bill and the mother of Luke.
He was 70 years old. In December, he had learned that his cancer had spread to his bones.
Luke Hancock, a Hidden Valley High School graduate, led the University of Louisville to the NCAA title two months ago in Atlanta. The backup guard/forward was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
Bill Hancock’s presence at the Final Four at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta became a national story.
“His daddy had Row 1, Seat 1 on that ticket,” Van Hancock said Monday.
“Now he’s got the best seat in the house.”
Luke Hancock, a rising senior at Louisville, scrapped plans to attend summer school so he could spend time in Roanoke with his father. He spent the past five or six weeks at home before leaving on June 20 to return to Louisville.
“When Luke left on Thursday, Luke knew that was the last time he would see his dad,” his mother said.
Luke Hancock left Louisville on Monday morning for Colorado Springs, Colo., where he will be one of 26 college players vying for 12 spots on the U.S. team that will compete in the World University Games. His mother broke the news of his father’s death when she reached him by phone during a layover in Dallas.
The family wanted Hancock to go ahead with the tryouts, so he continued with the trip west.
“We wanted him to go,” the player’s mother said. “He tried [earlier this month] to get out of going, and we told him, ‘Absolutely not.’
“He knows his dad wanted him desperately to go. I think he held on, waiting until Luke got on his way.”
The training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center began Monday night and concludes Sunday. The group will be whittled to a list of finalists Wednesday or Thursday, with the 12-man team announced prior to the squad’s departure for Russia on July 1. The World University Games will be held July 7-16 in Kazan, Russia.
Bill Hancock will be cremated this week. The family will not hold a memorial service until Luke returns home from his basketball obligations. So if Luke makes the U.S. team, the service will not be held until he gets back from Russia in mid-July.
Bill Hancock was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2011. He had beaten another form of cancer years earlier.
Last December, the Hancocks were told the cancer had spread aggressively, becoming widespread skeletal metastasis.
Hancock had been undergoing chemotherapy and drug treatments. He had the energy to attend only a few of Louisville’s regular-season games this year.
But Bill and Van attended all three of the Cardinals’ games in the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, so they saw their son help Louisville win that conference title three months ago.
Bill Hancock, a retired accountant, watched Louisville’s first four NCAA tournament games from home but attended the Final Four in Atlanta.
He was there to see Luke score 20 points in an April 6 win over Wichita State and saw him score 22 points and make five 3-pointers in the title-game win over Michigan on April 8. The family’s seats were right behind the Louisville bench.
“Being able to run out there and see [Bill] in the front row and see him with a smile on his face and him tell me he was proud of me, it really doesn’t get better than that,” Luke Hancock said in an April 10 interview.
The Cardinals cut down the nets after winning the title. After cutting off his piece, Luke ran over to his father so he could give it to him.
“I had the piece of net in my hand, but I was so excited to give him a hug and talk to him that I forgot to give it to him,” Hancock said in the April interview.
After returning home from the Final Four, Van Hancock said in an April 10 interview, she hoped her husband still had “some years.”
But later that month, the family learned that nothing else could be done.
Van Hancock took off from work last week. Her husband died with his family — except for Luke — at his bedside. He is survived by his wife, three children and two stepchildren.
Bill and Van attended a lot of Luke’s soccer and basketball games when he was a kid.
“He would try to be at every game he could,” Luke Hancock said of his father in the April interview. “He usually showed up to the game in a really nice suit, just came from his accounting office. He’s always supported me.”
Luke Hancock could not be reached for comment Monday.
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