COLUMBUS — William White never got on to the court at a state basketball tournament as a high school athlete, but he made it there on Saturday.
The former Lima Senior standout in football and basketball was one of three former athletes introduced as new members of the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Circle of Honor at halftime of the Division IV boys basketball state championship game between Marion Local and Cornerstone Christian.
Ohio State career scoring leader Dennis Hopson and 1970s Southwest Louisiana scoring machine Dwight (Bo) Lamar joined White on the court Saturday. Cincinnati Bengals legend Anthony Munoz, his son Michael and his daughter Michelle (Munoz) Trenz also went into the Circle of Honor this year.
“It was really an honor,” White said about being added to the OHSAA’s select group.
In White’s final basketball season at Lima Senior, the Spartans were the favorite to win the Columbus regional and play in the 1984 state tournament but were upset by Columbus Marion Franklin in the regional championship game.
His greatest individual success in high school sports came on the football field, but he said possibly his top memory in high school was beating Middletown in a match-up of state-ranked basketball teams in front of a sellout crowd and his future OSU football coach, Earle Bruce, his senior season.
“The times we beat Middletown were always big, especially in basketball. The home game (during the 1983-84 season) would be a highlight. From an athletic standpoint that was probably the biggest ever,” he said. “Those were good times in high school, I enjoyed those.”
Last August, White revealed the stunning news that he had been diagnosed the previous fall with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease which has no known cure.
He says life is good despite that diagnosis and that he is dealing with it with the same approach as when life brought good things his way.
“Life is good with me, man. I have no complaints. Every day is a blessing. I’ve got a smile on my face. There is nothing you can do about it, so why worry about it? It’s all in God’s hands so I just keep living, doing what He wants me to do and life has been good,” White said.
“I don’t ask why. I never asked the question, ‘Why?’ I never asked him why when he let me go into the NFL. I just accepted it and enjoyed. So he put this on me, so I just accept it and go with it,” he said.
He has decided not to try one experimental treatment but will go forward with a different one, probably starting next month.
“They have this infusion thing but I’m not doing it. There’s only like a 30, 33 percent chance it will work. They’re charging people $12,000 a month for it. They wanted me to be the promoter for it and it wouldn’t cost me anything to be the voice for it, but I didn’t want to be giving people hope in something I don’t believe in,” he said.
“They have this other new one, this laser treatment, that kind of gives energy to your neurons and motor neurons and stuff like that. I just met with my doctor Thursday and he said it’s good and he’s all for it, so he’ll go through the process next week and probably start it up sometime in April.”
White started a foundation at Ohio State recently to promote ALS research. He says it is just getting started and the big thing there is to get the word out.
Part of just living his life is watching his son Brendon, a sophomore safety at Ohio State, try to become a second generation starter for the Buckeyes. The older White started for four years in OSU’s defensive backfield from 1984-87 before playing 11 years in the NFL.
“It’s a head game. That’s the only thing bothering him right now, just enjoying the game and not worrying about too much stuff. I tell him to do like in middle school and high school, just go out there and have fun and play hard and don’t worry about it if you make a mistake.
“You’re not doing surgery on anybody. It’s just a game, a game that you love. You have to practice with the passion you have for it and have fun. He’s thinking too much. Just relax and play the game and it will all work out,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.