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March 3, 2011
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- University of North Carolina forward Jessica Breland, whose resilience against cancer returned her to competition and inspired her school to create a fund in her honor, has been named the 2011 recipient of the Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association.
In conjunction with Atlantic Coast Conference, ACSMA has presented the Bradley citation since 2006 to a male or female basketball player, coach or team administrator who has overcome significant injury, illness or other adversity to become a valuable contributor to his or her program and in-stitution. The award is named for the Clemson University sports information director who died in 2000 after a three-year battle with bone cancer.
Breland, a 6-foot-3 forward from Kelford, N.C., helped the Tar Heels to a Final Four appearance as a freshman in 2007. Two years later, she was train-ing for a U.S. national team when she experienced shortness of breath and chest pain. Diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she began regular six-hour chemotherapy sessions within a week. Doctors cleared her to practice during the 2009-10 season, and she returned to full participation in the fall of 2010. Today, she stands second on the Tar Heel team in scoring (11.5 ppg) and rebounding (6.9), and she is fourth in the ACC in blocked shots per game (1.8).
The fifth-year senior has started 20 of 26 games for Carolina as it begins ACC Tournament play. Off the floor, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has recognized Breland's strength by initiating the Jessica Breland Comeback Kids Fund, which raised more than $57,000 in its initial public event in November.
"It sends a message of strength and hope, and it honors how hard she's worked at her comeback," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "Truly, every kid with cancer deserves that same shot at a comeback.
The Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association is an organization of journalists dedicated to fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between the news media and the institutions and administration of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The group casts officially recognized votes for All-ACC teams in foot-ball and men's basketball and serves as a liaison to decision-makers.