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Apr 11, 2003
9:34:44pm
Travis Hansen mention in ESPN the Magazine...
We love Travis Hansen becasue...HE's a great baller of fire.

He watched his mother fight for her life. He fetched his own cold bath water on his Mormon mission in Chile. He hit 14 of 15 free throws as his premature son struggled to breath in an incubator. Tourney tough? Travis Hansen is a whole lot more. "I'll tell you what," says BYU coach Steve Cleveland, "that man has substance."

At 24, Hansen is the leader of a bruising squad that's handled one of the nation's toughest schedules. The 6'6" senior wing has a sweet game (16.5ppg), a love for dirty work and a passion to inspire others. "Travis didn't have very good people skills he got here," Cleveland says. "Now he speaks with a fiery edge."

The edge runs deep. Seven years ago, when Hansen was a freshamn at Utah Valley State in his hometown of ORem, pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in his mom. Doctors said she had 30 days to live; she hung on for 100. "She was my best friend," he says. "I was sad and mad and confused, all at once." Ignoring Mormon rules, Travis got a tattoo that said "The Heavens" in Chinese lettering. He also considered giving up hoops and ditching school. But his dad, a Mormon bishop, wouldn't let him ignore his mom's final wish. "She told me to open myself up to my mission," Hansen says.

He left home in 1997 and spent two years in Santiago learning Spanish and the Mormon gospel. Upon his return to the States in 1999, he enrolled at BYU, where he met his wife, LaRee, lasered off his tattoo and decided to start a family. Ryder Hansen was born three weeks early on Jan. 23; he battled pneumonia while Travis kept vigil. On Jan 25, Dad scored 21 points and grabbed 12 boards against Utah, playing on fumes. He suffered his first career home loss that day, but his son pulled through.

"He's one tough little dude," Hansen says. As if that should come as a surprise."

-Ryan Hockersmith for ESPN the Magazine, March 31, 2003.

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