The Crimson White

Fundraiser aims to help former UA star

Taylor Holland

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The undergraduate members of the Omega Phi Psi fraternity are doing all they can to help former Alabama basketball player Mikhail Torrance with his recovery from a coma.

Torrance, who was in the fraternity while attending the University, collapsed at a workout in Florida in late August. Reports said Torrance was unconscious and not breathing when he was taken out of the gym.

“Mikhail just recently woke up from his coma with no recollection as to what happened during the incident,” said Xavier Burgin, vice president of Omega Phi Psi. “After we learned about the incident, we decided to make a fundraiser and ask people to come out and offer their support.”

Burgin said the fraternity planned to set up a table in the Ferguson Student Center on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“The first time we set up the table we had a huge ‘get well’ card that we got many students to sign and that has already been taken to him,” he said. “We also raised [more than] $200.”

Burgin said Torrance was not just a member of his fraternity but also a member of the UA family.

“He contributed a lot to where [UA’s men’s basketball team] did go,” he said.

Burgin said he would like to see at least $1,000 raised in the coming weeks but added the goal of the fraternity’s table was not solely to raise money.

“We’re still doing well,” he said. “It’s not about the money. We want to let him know that we’re thinking about him.”

In 2009, Torrance said he had been diagnosed with an enlarged heart. After graduating from the University, Torrance went undrafted in the NBA Draft but signed a summer-camp contract with the Miami Heat. Torrance spent four days in camp before being released. After leaving Miami, he signed a contract to play basketball for one of Israel’s top teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Heather Grant, a senior majoring in biology who often attended UA men’s basketball games, said her heart stopped when she heard about what happened to Torrance.

“I think the fundraiser is a great idea and will definitely let him know we’re all still thinking about him,” she said.

Anthony Grant, the men’s basketball coach, offered his thoughts on Torrance in a press release.

“I was shocked and saddened to hear about Mikhail this afternoon,” he said in a release the day Torrance collapsed. “My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this very difficult time. I want Mikhail and his family to know that his teammates, coaches and the entire University community are praying for his full recovery.”

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Fundraiser aims to help former UA star