By: Ben Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
March 28, 2019
ANAHEIM, Calif. (WCTV) -- "It would be wonderful if life were without challenges." But, that wouldn't be real. Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton knows it. His team now does, too.
"You don't ever prepare yourself for the situation that the Cofer family is going through," Hamilton said.
"We're playing for a bigger purpose," added Seminole forward Christ Koumadje. "It's not just a game, we're playing for Phil."
Gritty. Gamer. Leader. Now, grieving.
One week ago Thursday, Phil Cofer lost his dad Mike to a longtime battle with a rare, incurable disease.
"We've talked with him since everything happened. He's here, his locker, his name is still up. We have his dad written on our shoes, so he's here in spirit," said RaiQuan Gray.
A win Thursday in the Sweet Sixteen not only extends FSU's season, but offers hope that Cofer will be back with them in person soon.
"Phil is usually the one cracking all the jokes and being the loudest guy around, so you can tell it's different," Trent Forrest noted.
Like on the court, Hamilton says he and his staff try to get their players ready for whatever life might throw at them.
"I'm just hoping we've done the very best we can in preparing our kids for challenges they have to overcome in order to move on," he said.
That's why Phil Cofer isn't going through this alone. Until he's ready to return, his teammates are with him in spirit, too.