Father-son basketball game made possible by triumph over leukemia

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame basketball player Dane Goodwin's role model has always been his father, Damon.

"He taught me everything I know in basketball," Dane said.

And Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion, he played against Capital University and the Crusaders head coach: his dad.

"It's definitely a bit weird," Dane said. "A bit different sitting on the sideline seeing him down the side instead of right next to you."

It certainly was a unique experience for the Goodwin family.

"I've never done that before," Damon said. "I tried to put it to the side and work on our guys. I think we had a good scouting report on him, I'll tell you that."

"Just to play against your dad, I don't think many people can say that," Dane said. "It definitely was a cool experience."

But that experience almost never happened.

"Sometimes I would just go home and wonder what would happen next," Dane said. "You never wanted to think that, but that was the reality."

In the fall of 2015, Damon was diagnosed with leukemia. The news took a toll on the Goodwin family.

"Well, I think it was hard on everybody," Damon said. "I had to take a year off of coaching. I was in the hospital for quite some time. It was a tough experience a few years ago, but I think it made us closer."

That experience made Damon especially close with Dane.

"The whole experience really bonded us and got us even closer," Dane said. "I would come home. We would watch my game film. He would keep me up to date on those things. It was definitely hard to go through the uncertainty of what's going to happen next."

What's certain now is Damon is 3 1/2 years cancer free. What's always been certain is the special bond between father and son.

"There's probably not been many times in college basketball where a dad gets to play against his son on a different team on the college level," Damon said. "That's a unique experience."

Perhaps the most important lesson Dane ever learned from his father was never on the basketball court but in the game of life.

"Life throws your curveballs all the time," Dane said. "His especially is bigger than the rest. Things are going to happen. Just maintain a positive attitude, the next-step mentality. We talk about that a lot here too. Just knowing that at the end of the day, it's going to work out."