Like father, like son: ISU's Kane carries on

March, 27, 2014
3/27/14
9:40
PM ET
It didn’t hit DeAndre Kane right away.

But after the hugs and the high-fives and the national television interview, back in the locker room, it finally hit him.

"I starting thinking how excited my dad would have been," Kane said. "He would have been more happy than me."

[+] EnlargeDeAndre Kane
AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallIowa State's DeAndre Kane wears No. 50 for his dad and says, "I know he's happy watching this."
With a driving, game-winning layup last weekend, Iowa State’s point guard toppled North Carolina and sent the Cyclones to the Sweet 16 to set up a Madison Square Garden clash Friday with No. 7 UConn. But the man who first put a basketball in his hands, then became his biggest fan along the way, wasn’t there to see it.

Two years ago, Calvin Kane died suddenly from a brain aneurysm no one saw coming. Especially his son.

"We talk about it every day. DeAndre's father would be overjoyed with what is going on with DeAndre right now," said Kane's mother, Carol Robinson. "It hurts him his father not being here on this road with us, seeing what his son is doing. But at the end of the day, we know he's watching and seeing what DeAndre is doing."

And what DeAndre has been doing would indeed have caused his dad to be overjoyed.

In 1980, Calvin himself was a point guard on Lamar's Sweet 16 team coached by Billy Tubbs. Ki Lewis, the father of Miami Heat forward Rashard Lewis, also was on that team. So was the father of Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, Kenneth, though he was redshirting that season after a transfer.

"What I remember about Calvin was that he was a really good kid, a good player," said Tubbs, who left for Oklahoma later that year.

Calvin had always told his son that the "time to shine" was in the NCAA tournament.

And so far, that's exactly what his son has been doing.

With the Cyclones missing third-leading scorer Georges Niang for the rest of the season because of a fractured foot suffered in the tournament opener, DeAndre elevated his game against the Tar Heels. He scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 7 assists, rallying Iowa State from a late eight-point deficit for the victory.

But life hasn't always been so easy for DeAndre, who came to the precipice of giving up basketball and school.

While DeAndre was in high school, he and his father were inseparable. Calvin went to every game, and after DeAndre signed with Marshall, that barely stopped.

DeAndre quickly rose to stardom for the Thundering Herd and was named the Conference USA freshman of the year. Two all-league seasons followed. But in February 2012, DeAndre’s world stopped.

Calvin had been planning to visit Huntington, W.Va., to help DeAndre with his free throw shooting between games. But before he could get there and without warning, Calvin collapsed from a brain aneurysm. Carol didn’t know how to break such devastating news to her son. She called DeAndre's teammate Shaquille Johnson for help.

A Marshall assistant drove DeAndre four hours to Pittsburgh, where he found his dad connected to machines. The family had been waiting for DeAndre to arrive before having Calvin taken off life support.

"He was my hero, my No. 1 fan," DeAndre said. "What I went through with my dad, that was the hardest thing in my life. Things got to me after that."

DeAndre wanted to give up basketball after that. After all, basketball was the one thing he and his father had shared. Carol and the rest of the family pleaded with DeAndre to go back. Eventually, he did. But Marshall wasn't the same. And before long, it became clear to everyone involved that DeAndre needed a change.

"He was having some struggles," Carol said. "He was young, he had lost his dad and he was hurting."

DeAndre had lost his focus, both in basketball and in life, she said. And despite being its best player, DeAndre was dismissed from the Marshall basketball team.

"He was doing wrong, and he knew he was doing wrong," said Carol, who declined to elaborate further. "He needed a fresh start."

He was my hero, my No. 1 fan. What I went through with my dad, that was the hardest thing in my life. Things got to me after that.

-- Iowa State's DeAndre Kane
DeAndre still managed to get his degree, then began looking for that fresh start.

The University of Pittsburgh showed interest. But Carol wanted her son to spend his final college season where he could regain his focus, and being back near old temptations of the Pittsburgh Hill District wasn't the answer.

Then Iowa State called.

So DeAndre and Carol went to visit.

"Driving in, I saw those cornfields, and you know what, I said this ain't nothing but focus town," Carol said. "This is where it's got to be. This is where my son could be successful."

Has he ever.

Under the tutelage of Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, Kane rediscovered the tenets Calvin had instilled in him. And as the Cyclones surged the past two months, Kane was named first-team All-Big 12.

"That school and that place is awesome," Carol said. "I'm so glad that's where DeAndre ended up."

Iowa State is glad he ended up there, too.

And now, he's on the cusp of leading the Cyclones to the Elite Eight for just the third time in school history.

"I've overcome hard situations," he said. "So when we were down eight points [to North Carolina], I knew I had the mental toughness to help us find a way to win."

As a tribute to his father, DeAndre has been donning jersey No. 50, because Calvin died a week before he would have turned 50. And though Calvin can't help him with his free throws or his dribbling or his defense anymore, DeAndre knows he's still watching. Calvin wouldn't miss his son's time to shine.

"I know he's watching over me every day," DeAndre said. "I know he's happy watching this."

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