KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Former Tennessee guard Chris Lofton underwent treatment for testicular cancer after a failed drug test at the 2007 NCAA tournament revealed he potentially had a tumor.
Lofton revealed to ESPN.com in a story posted Thursday that he underwent surgery in March 2007 and had four weeks of radiation starting in May.
"I would like to thank everyone for respecting my privacy during the past year, and I hope that they continue to do so," Lofton said in a statement released by the school Thursday evening. According to the ESPN report, Lofton was randomly picked during the 2007 NCAA tournament for a drug test, which revealed high levels of hCG, a hormone that serves as an indicator of pregnancy in women, steroid use or cancer.
Lofton's 431 3-pointers are a Southeastern Conference record and rank third in NCAA history. He was The Associated Press' SEC player of the year as a junior and a second-team All-America. He was a preseason All-America going into his senior season, but fans and reporters began raising questions when he started the season in a shooting slump.
"This has been a very difficult time for me and my family but it has brought us closer together," Lofton said in the statement. "I have been very blessed that we were able to catch everything early so that now I am OK."
His shooting improved during the second half of the season, and he still led Tennessee in scoring at 15.5 points per game, though it was a drop from his 20.8 as a junior. He was a third-team All-America.
"I think that his health issues were a factor in his play early this past season," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "He physically and mentally overcame all of the challenges associated with battling cancer and serves as a tremendous role model to all of us."
Several school officials declined to comment further about Lofton's condition, citing HIPPA medical privacy laws. Neither Lofton nor his parents returned messages from The Associated Press seeking further comment.
Pearl said Lofton, a native of Maysville, Ky., and his family had wanted to keep information about his cancer private throughout the season.
"There was a point this past season that I was asked about Chris Lofton's health almost every day," Pearl said in the statement. "Chris Lofton is one of the toughest players I have ever been around. Not once did he make an issue of what he has gone through. Never once did he complain."
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