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Vols and Lady Vols assist Hoops for Hope

The Vols and Lady Vols assisted in “Hoops for Hope” Saturday morning.  Hoops for Hope was started as an Eagle Scout project by Farragut grad Trey Sexton in 2008 and benefits the Down Syndrome Awareness Group of East Tennessee.

Attendees played several basketball games with Tennessee’s players while the coaches spoke with the crowd and helped instruct players that were waiting to get on the court. Afterwards, the players and staff signed autographs for everyone in the audience.

This was Tennessee Head Basketball Coach Donnie Tyndall’s first time at Hoops for Hope and the event certainly left an impression.

“First of all, you have to understand we have three goals as a staff: to graduate our guys, to win championships and to help them develop as young people. And this is an opportunity to do that,” Tyndall told RTI after the event. “They get to meet and greet and share their blessings and their fortunes with other people and give back to the community. I don’t think there’s been a better cause or anything I’ve ever been part of than today’s event. It was fantastic.”

Josh Richardson, who has attended the event four consecutive years, was struck by how much the kids opened up to them as the day went on.

“It’s crazy to see how much they transition from when we walk in the door at 9 am to when we get warmed up,” Richardson said. “It makes me think we should be thankful for what we have. If they can come out here and have fun like that for a couple hours, we should be able to be grateful for the opportunity we have to play basketball with them.”

Hoops for Hope also provided a chance for the young Vols to bond outside of regular basketball activities.

“We all kinda hang out off the court. We are all already pretty tight, even though most of us have any been here a couple months. But even the bus ride up here, where we can just sit and talk for a while, that’s good for us,” said Richardson.

Tyndall echoed his sentiments.

“Our guys know that our team motto is family and it’s not just lip service,” Tyndall said. “We want to be brothers and have a great bond. It takes time, especially with this many newcomers, but we have a great group of guys. I don’t think we have any ego guys on our team. We have unselfish guys and the chemistry so far seems to be good.”

This wasn’t the first time this week Tyndall took time out of his schedule for a good cause. Earlier in the week, he met Butch Jones’ ice bucket challenge, and, for Tyndall, raising awareness for ALS isn’t just about cold buckets of water, it’s personal.

“One of my best friends in life, a guy that I grew up with, Adam Visser, passed away when he was 32 years old from ALS,” Tyndall said. “It was just a tragic situation to watch him wither away, for lack of a better term. It’s a dreaded disease and anything I can do to help raise awareness and raise funds for it, I’m certainly proud to be part of that.

“Butch has been calling me out. I finally got back and had a chance to meet the challenge. He was gracious to be part of it and we had a really good time. Now we’ll see if Johnny Knoxville steps up.”

You can see pictures from the event below.

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