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Late Butler player’s legacy lives on during Villanova game

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- On what became one of Butler’s biggest nights of this season, the legacy of one of their own was shining bright.

Butler player Andrew Smith died in 2016 at just 25 years old after a courageous fight with cancer. Now, his widow and former teammates are making sure his death can help others live.

“He didn’t say a lot, but when he did speak, everybody would listen to him,” said former teammate Chase Stigall.

When Smith became sick in 2014, Stigall became registered to donate bone marrow. Just three months later, he was matched with a two-year-old boy who needed a bone marrow transplant. Stigall is hoping everyone will hear his own story, and get registered to donate.

“He could have fought cancer at home, by himself…but he was unselfish and thought about other people and wanting to help other people so they started Project 44,” said Stigall.

During his treatment, Smith and his wife Samantha started Project 44, a mission aimed at getting people tested and signed up for the bone marrow donor registry.

“Andrew and I were not aware of the struggles and battles that cancer patients face with a bone marrow transplant until we were faced with it ourselves,” said Samantha.

And with the push at Saturday’s game to get people signed up for the registry, they hope that help continues.

“We all saw the joy on the court but even when it was hard, he was joyful,” said Samantha.

For more information on getting registered, you can go to BeTheMatch.org.