Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim may sometimes resemble a Grinch on the court and in the press room, but his heart isn’t two sizes too small.
Boeheim took time out of his summer a few weeks ago to call a Syracuse fan, Dan Morrison, who was diagnosed with cancer. Morrison died about three hours after the phone conversation.
Morrison grew up in Utica, N.Y. but moved to Syracuse, where he developed a strong liking for Orange sports, particularly basketball. Morrison shared his love for Syracuse with family, including his two daughters.
Jackie, one of his daughters, shared audio from Boeheim and her father’s conversation with Syracuse.com.
“How you doing, Sir?” Boeheim said to begin the call. “You know, you can’t be in this shape now, we’ve got another four or five years to coach here. …. We’ve got to get at least one more (championship), I’ve got to coach my son, (Buddy). He’s not going to be here for another year, so I’ve got to coach for a while.”
“What was beautiful was that he was trying to give my father something to look forward to,” Jackie said.
Jackie came up with the idea for a Boeheim phone conversation to cheer up her father from Syracuse.com. The website wrote a story about Lynn Smiddy receiving a call from the Orange coach while she was dying of cancer last April.
Jackie sent an e-mail to Kelly Taylor, who is the administrator for the Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation, requesting a phone call. Five days later, Boeheim called and left a message. Fortunately, Jackie called him back in time, which allowed her father to connect with the Hall of Fame coach.
“It’s one of those little things he does, but it means the world to us,” Jennifer said.
Doctors gave Morrison six months to live, but finding inspiration in Orange basketball, he fought Stage-4 for more than two years. He even continued to work as an electrical engineer until the final weeks of his life.