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College Football Coach also Coached Son to Cancer Recovery

Aired August 28, 2003 - 19:27   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR: Radio city. The start of the college football season is special for a lot of people but it's tough to imagine it meaning more to anyone than Tyson and Danny Hail.
Danny coaches the Bloomsburg University Huskies and at Saturday's game his son, Tyson, takes the field as part of the team.

No matter how the team does this year, Tyson can already be considered, a big winner. That is in thanks, in no small part, to his dad, whose can do attitude helped coach Tyson back to health after he was diagnosed with lymphoma when he was just 11 years old.

Both Tyson and Danny Hail join us tonight from Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Appreciate both of you being here. It is good to see you both, Danny and Tyson.

Danny, let me start off with you. It was 1993; your son was 11 years old. His neck swells up. You take him to one doctor, got misdiagnosed. You take him to hospital and all of a sudden, they say you've got to go down to oncology. What was that like?

DANNY HALE, COACHES, BLOOMSBURG U. HUSKIES: Probably the toughest moment for me was making a phone call to my wife to let her know because I had taken Tyson for that visit and that was at the option of my roommate in college, Dr. Jim Blackburn.

And he was a critical care doctor and he thought that Tyson should see a pediatric infectious disease. It's just that he didn't like the looks of the nodes.

And one thing led to another. As soon as we got to -- he made the appointment, actually, for us at Geisinger Medical, and we went there and Dr. Ryan, the pediatric specialist, sent us right down to pediatric oncology, Dr. George, and the rest is history.

And right away it was -- we just -- we made it just in time.

COOPER: And Tyson, I mean, you had 18 months of chemotherapy to go through. You're 11 years old. What was that like?

TYSON HALE, LYMPHOMA SURVIVOR: It was a struggle, but I took it a day at a time, you know. I took it as part of my life. There were a few days I got down on myself and, you know, thought about what it would be like to die or something, but other than that, I mean I got -- I got through it all and had a strong will. COOPER: To say the least. I read that you had to go to school one day, it was your first day of school at a new school and you were going through chemotherapy and you'd lost your hair. You had to wear a baseball hat and you're all swollen up and you go to school on the first day. I mean, the first day is tough for anyone. I can't imagine what that was like?

T. HALE: Yes. I mean, it was kind of hard times. But like I said, that hat that I got to wear, was autographed by Jim Kelly and I felt so good when I put that on, I felt like I fit right in like a normal kid.

And the kids, I mean the whole faculty and staff of the school I went to, Central Columbia, they treated me so good, and they let me leave the classroom if I had to throw up and they really treated me well to get through it all.

COOPER: And Danny, you were determined to, you know, lead not a normal life, I guess that's the wrong term, but I mean, to really -- to get Tyson, keep him motivated, keep him out there just like any other kid?

D. HALE: That's correct. Diane and I, my wife Diane and we were strongly committed Christians before this occurred, and we put our trust in God and prayer. And we believed that we wanted to be as much of a family unit as possible and live each day as much as we could.

COOPER: And that meant going to -- that meant going to amusement parks, letting him ride the roller coaster, having him play Little League baseball?

D. HALE: Well, not necessarily the amusement parks but certainly letting him be himself as much as possible. And he did play Little League baseball and that was something that the oncologists allowed to occur. I'm sorry about losing my earphone here.

COOPER: That's all right.

You know, Tyson, you didn't start playing football until you were in 10th grade. They said OK, it's all right for you to go ahead. That's kind of late. I mean, a lot of kids start playing a lot younger. You're obviously doing really well. You're playing in college now.

What is it like being on the same team that your dad is coaching? Is that tough?

T. HALE: Actually, it's not too bad. He might be a little harder on me than some of the other guys, but, you know, I can take is.

COOEPR: Do you call him "Coach," do you call him "Dad"? What do you call him?

T. HALE: Well, it's kind of weird, you know, saying "coach" might feel a little weird for me or calling him "Dad." But, you know, I just -- I, like, give him a hand signal or say, "Hey, come over here" if I have a question or something like that. But it's not too bad.

COOPER: Well, you know, we appreciate both of you joining us. I know you've got this game on Saturday. Good luck to you on the game. I mean, you're just an inspiration to a lot of people.

T. HALE: Thank you.

COOPER: And Tyson and Danny, appreciate both of you coming in tonight.

D. HALE: Thanks very much. We're just coming off the field, practice field to come up here.

COOPER: I'm glad you did. I wish I could actually work out every now and then. But it's good for you to talk. Thanks very much.



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