More details are emerging this morning about the speed of decline in Mississippi State sophomore DE Nick Bell's health over the past week. It was just 2 weeks ago that he was on the sideline, cheering on the team as they battled UAB for Homecoming.
Family friend and mentor Moreland Smith has spoken with several media outlets, including Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News and Brad Locke of the NE Mississippi Daily Journal. What was originally though to be skin cancer was actually a rare form of cancer called synovial sarcoma. This cancer starts by affecting the soft tissue around the joints, like the knee, elbow, shoulder and such. It is often mis-diagnosed as arthritis or bursitis.
A test last Thursday (Oct. 28) revealed a spot on Nick's lung. Instead of attempting surgery, doctors decided he would start Chemotherapy on Nov. 1. On Sunday, Oct. 31, Bell started to experience a burning sensation in his harm, accompanied by severe headaches and blurry vision. A CAT scan revealed blood on his brain and what appeared to be a tumor the size of a tennis ball.
By monday morning, Bell was in a deep coma despite surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain. On Tuesday morning, he was declared brain dead and was taken off life support Tuesday afternoon.
The Clarion Ledger has reaction to Bell's passing from former MSU head coaches Jackie Sherrill and Sylvester Croom, as well as SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
Jackie Sherril was head coach from 91-03 and had 2 players pass away during his tenure. The most well known is the drowning death of Keffer McGee in August of 1997. Rodney Stowers broke his leg in a game against Florida in 1991 and passed away during surgery.
"There's no answers that you can give because you're not qualified to give them," Sherrill said Tuesday. "It's very, very difficult. The only thing that you can do as a coach is that you certainly have professionals to handle your players. A lot of them will be very emotional about it. It will affect them in a lot of different ways. You really do need professional help to guide you to guide the players in dealing with this."
Sylvester Croom recruited Bell to Mississippi State, and actually got him to change his mind. He almost committed to Tennessee.
"The thing I was most impressed with was, when I first met him and his mother, they were class people. She was very persistent on him getting his education and doing things the right way. I think that was the main reason we got him. We promised her that he'd be a better man when he left."
Many students gathered last night at The Junction and rang their cowbells at 7:36 in honor of Nick Bell. 7 wins for #36 was the significance to the time. Many MSU alumni all over the country and world did the same.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced by the family at this time, but the Mississippi State Athletic Department has established a memorial fund for the Bell family through the Bulldog Club. Donations can be made by calling 662-325-3074 or by submitting a pledge through the Dog Tag system. The department will also deliver messages and cards sent to the family. The Athletic Department mailing address is PO Box 5308, Mississippi State, MS, 39762.