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Red, White & Pink game always has special meaning for Heat, Haslem

The fight against cancer will always be an important one for Heat captain Udonis Haslem.

Udonis Haslem 2In July 2010, he lost his mother Debra at age 53 to cancer. Two years earlier, his stepbrother Sam Wooten died from cancer.

"It's always going to be a constant battle for me to continue to try to fight, to find some kind of away to stop this terrible disease," Haslem, 36, said Monday morning before the Heat's third annual "Red, White and Pink" scrimmage to raise money for breast cancer awareness and the Miami Cancer Institute.

"I'm not a man of a pink, but I will be wearing pink just to show support and continue to show unity and strength as we fight," Haslem continued. "It's a devastating disease."

Among the cooler scenes from Monday night's scrimmage is when players, coaches and staff joined breast cancer survivors on the court and hugged them. 

"I mean they're my heroes," said Haslem, who has been a part of the Heat's tradition of hugging breast cancer survivors each of he last two years.

"People look to us as basketball players and they say you're my hero. But to me, my Mom was my hero. She was the strongest person I ever met from fighting drug addiction, homelessness, fighting cancer.  So, those kind of people are my kind of heroes. Those are people who inspire me. Basketball is just a game. These people fight in life and that's a fight beyond anything that basketball can ever present or challenge us."

Coach Erik Spoelstra said it was great to share the Heat's tradition of honoring breast cancer survivors with a new roster.

"We try to emphasize that with our guys all the time -- it can be more than just a game," he said. "But it's an incredible platform. We're so fortunate to be in this profession and this shines and incredible light and we love it. To see the response of the survivors, I can't wait for this group to see it. Because it really is a touching moment when we're all able to go out there and hug and share."

The game was streamed on Heat.com




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