Basketball star Walt McGrory dies at 24

 December 21, 2023

Former Wisconsin college basketball star Walt McGrory has passed away after a brave two-year battle with a rare form of bone cancer.

The talented young athlete, who was just 24, breathed his last on Saturday.

“His soul was freed to continue his great mission — to live and help others live full, healthy lives,” his family wrote on his Instagram account.

Dead at 24

McGrory's talents shined at his high school in Minnesota, where he earned the distinction of all-time high scorer with 2,126 points in his senior year.

"He had some very difficult times and some very painful moments, but he always kept his smile on," his former Edina High school coach, Pat Dorsey, said.

From 2017 to 2021, the 6-foot-3 guard played in 37 games for the Wisconsin Badgers while being recognized twice as an Academic All-Big Ten student.

He was looking forward to the next chapter of his career at South Dakota when his diagnosis changed everything in 2021.

McGrory was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - a very rare form of bone cancer most often seen in children and young adults. Every year, there are about 800 new cases in the United States.

The cancer began in McGrory's shin and spread to one leg and his lungs. He had his leg amputated in April.

“I didn’t look down right away,” McGrory told KARE11. “I mean, I had the blanket over it and I didn’t really want to look at it for the first few days."

“I’m not ashamed of it or anything. I’ll go to Lifetime Fitness or the gym and I’ll have the crutches."

Athlete faced death with courage

McGrory faced an early death with admirable courage.

“I don't know if it's denial,” he told KARE11 when asked about his reaction to the diagnosis. “It's just more like, 'Well, this will be over soon.' Like, I don't really need to think about it much. Just get done with it and I'll move on."

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard paid tribute to McGrory's indomitable spirit.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Walt McGrory," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said Monday in a statement. "The courage and fight that Walt demonstrated throughout his two-year battle with cancer was an inspiration to us all. Walt never quit. Instead, he chose to fight every day and made the most of his circumstances by sharing his journey and inspiring others. Walt was a beloved member of our team and the Badger family, and we will miss him dearly."


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