SIDELINE SCENE: Windermere's Bogans motivated to promote breast cancer awareness
| 10:37 a.m. October 23, 2014
Recalling his childhood, adolescence and his years as a young man playing in the NBA, Keith Bogans says he never knew much about breast cancer.
For the Windermere resident and veteran guard, the reality of how devastating the disease can be came back in 2008, when his older sister, Kristi L. Brown, was diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer.
“The cancer was eating away at her so fast and, not knowing anything, I asked the doctor, ‘What is it going to cost?’ “ Bogans said. “And the doctor said, ‘It’s not a money thing — there’s nothing we can do.’
“And right then and there, I was down on myself, like, ‘What good is having money and I can’t even help my sister?’” he said. “It was really bothering me. So I said, ‘What I can do is start my own foundation, in her name and her honor, and go out and try to educate young, black, minority women, or just minorities in general, who don’t get the information people in the high or the middle class get about (breast cancer).’”
Bogans started Kristi’s Wish in 2012 and — just recently — relocated the foundation to be based in Central Florida, partnering with Tammy Wyche, a local marketing representative for the American Cancer Society.
Bogans says things have taken off recently, as he is in the process of launching a new website for his foundation. Furthermore, he, brother Antonio Tate and other members of his team will be participating in Making Strides of Orlando Oct. 25, at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.
On that day, Bogans and his family will honor his sister, just as thousands of other Central Floridians will honor the memory of sisters, mothers and daughters who were taken too soon.
In 2008, at age 28, Bogans — then in his first stint with the Orlando Magic — was in the physical prime of his career. The pain he recalls feeling when learning that his sister could not be saved, despite the financial success he had earned, is a reminder for all of us that everybody is affected by this and that donating for cancer research and promoting awareness are of the utmost importance.
“My sister was my best friend growing up,” Bogans said. “If I had any problems, it would be reported to my sister first. She was my go-to.
“When she passed, I wanted to do something,” he said. “We’re not informed — I learned that my sister wasn’t informed about breast cancer. There was no knowledge growing up. I don’t remember people coming through with pamphlets when we were young or anything.”
Now, the University of Kentucky Hall-of-Famer is looking to use his platform as a professional athlete to convey that message. Bogans, who in recent years has played for the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, was released by the oft-rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers recently and is in search of a franchise for the upcoming season.
While that part of the equation is still undecided, what isn’t is that Bogans, a father who has also helped with raising the four children his sister left behind since her passing, feels like he is at a stage in his career where he particularly wants to make an impact off the court.
“I can reach out and touch a kid,” he said. “I’ll have more influence (as a professional athlete) than an average person. If I’m talking about breast cancer, they’re going to listen.”