V Week Chat: Tyler Jones
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, Tyler Jones, head coach of the Concordia men's basketball team, stops by to talk hoops and celebrate Jimmy V Week here at ESPN. Last year, Jones was featured on ESPN's OTL as he battled prostate cancer, while his team supoorted him as he finished his nine-week treatment.
In the 19 years since The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the foundation has raised more than $100 million. For more information, or to donate to the V Foundation, call 1-800-4-JimmyV or go here. Tuesday's other V Week chats: 1:30 ET: Bob Lloyd | 2:30 ET: Nick Valvano
Jones is in his fifth season as coach of Concordia. He cited St. John's coach Steve Lavin as his inspiration for getting checked and treated for prostate cancer last year, leading to an exhibition between the two schools during the preseason this year.
Send your questions now and join Jones Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:03 PM)
Tyler is here!
what's the reception been like around campus and the city since your story aired last year?
Tyler Jones (2:05 PM)
The reception has been fantastic. I'm approached by people that I don't know, but know me through ESPN. ESPN was very steadfast to me to not just tell my story but to follow up. They took the time to have me participate four times in the last year. They were really concerned about my health and that was transfered to the public. They're always asking me how I'm doing. It's been terrific.
Whose idea was it to have the game with St. Johns?
Tyler Jones (2:07 PM)
That was all because of the fact that I had said that Steve Lavin was the precursor and he was the reason that I got checked. One of his assistants called me up after last year's Outside the Lines aired and he extended me an invitation for a preseason game for this year, to promote awareness. I almost dropped the phone. For us being a D-III team, some of these kids might not have a chance to play in New York. And the historic context of playing against St. John's.
Have you gone back to watch the video feature of your battle with cancer?
Tyler Jones (2:08 PM)
Great question. I haven't in a while. I lived it. I watched it several times. ESPN was gracious enough to re-air it 3-4 times in a short window last year. I was even contacted late in the summer that they were going to do a recap of the best OTL shows. I was planning on watching it. That would have been the closest I would have been to watching it again. I'm not sure that it aired.
Leslie (New York)
What is your relationship like with Steve Lavin?
Tyler Jones (2:10 PM)
Steve is terrific. I think we're a lot more alike after having met him. He invited me to have dinner with him after the game. He lives in lower Manhattan. We had dinner, talked basketball, talked life, health for hours. It was like basketball heaven, talking about different issues. I remember him makingh his run at UCLA as a young coach. I coached against some of his players when I was a CBA coach. The history that accompanies a guy who makes a Final Four run. He asked me questions, "what do you tell your team after a game like this?" after St. John's beat us by 40. We talked about our treatments. It was an enlightening experience. I feel I've gained a friend for life.
As a coach, is it harder to motivate yourself because you're always motivating others?
Tyler Jones (2:11 PM)
I have no problem with self-motivation. I have a very challenging job this year in replacing four seniors that all started last year. We have a young team. I use all of my energy to just stay on the cutting edge. I want to be on top of changes that will make my team better. I want to be aware of different ways to gain accomplishments from different kids. I try to process other peoples' information and what they do.
Any relapses of your cancer?
Tyler Jones (2:12 PM)
Thank you Greg, I appreciate you asking. I've been good. I'm tested every 3 months. I have PSAs that my doctors wanted me to continue. It needs to drop and my numbers have been good. Still not out of the woods yet, but it looks good. I haven't missed a day of work. I feel good and strong.
What was it like to learn you had prostate cancer? Most men hate going to the doctor.
Tyler Jones (2:14 PM)
That's another good question, thanks. I was afraid. You think time is infinite when you're a young guy. When I found out, it's when I really found out time was finite. I was nervous, afraid, scared. I didn't do anything other than try to process. I had a strong history of cancer in my family, my older brother, my dad. I was very aware. When I joined that unfortunate fraternity, that finite part of my life became a reality, I had to fight it as best as I could.
Have people come up to you and said you're the reason they went and got checked, after seeing your story?
Tyler Jones (2:16 PM)
A TON. Lots. That's what empowers me. That's what makes me get up every day and not be afraid to talk about my trials about being a cancer patient. That's what I'm thinking about when I'm going through the tests to make sure I'm cancer free. There's an ad running in Chicago and if I had a nickel for every time someone told me they heard the ad... I went to go see a physician about some knee problems and he saw my name and asked if it was me and he said that I've helped take away some of the edge about going to the doctor for the test. I feel proud about that.
How often do you reflect back on the special moment you shared with your team last year when they were there with you for your last treatment?
Tyler Jones (2:17 PM)
A lot. Isaiah Thomas had a quote and said something like the secret of basketball is that it has nothing to do with basketball. That's so true. I try to tell my guys that when you're on the court, it's about your relationships with the team, how you work, your success, has nothing to do with basketball. We rallied around each other last year and won a divisional championship.
What would you tell men who don't want to go to the doc to get tested for prostate cancer?
Tyler Jones (2:19 PM)
Man, please go. You have a 50-50 chance of hearing great news. Why not give yourself those odds? I have a daughter who was 5 at my diagnosis. You owe it to your family. Stay on top of it. There are things that can keep you healthy, like this proton treatment did for me, like surgery for Steve Lavin. For those guys that don't want to go, I would urge you to go. Go get a DRE. You have a chance to get good news. Colonoscopies as well.
How has sports or coaching prepped you for being a "fighter"
Tyler Jones (2:20 PM)
Great question. Sports is color blind. Many illnesses are color blind. They don't want to know what nationality you are. The same with athletics. Being in sports prepared me. You handle ups and downs. Bad situations, bad calls. It gears you toward your ultimate battle. Going through an illness, you need mental toughness. There were days in my office where I cried like a baby. I cleaned off the tears and walked into practice or into a game. Being involved as a coach certainly toughened me up for this battle.
Tyler Jones (2:22 PM)
I want to thank all of the participants in the chat. The questions were fantastic. It allowed me touch on all of the topics I wanted to talk to you about. Go get checked out. Stay on top of your health.