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Former Florida Gators basketball star Dwayne Schintzius being treated in Tampa for leukemia

Former Florida All-America center Dwayne Schintzius is at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa getting treatment in what has become a months-long battle with leukemia.

Schintzius, 41, had a bone marrow transplant about three weeks ago with marrow donated from his brother, Travis. At the time the prognosis seemed encouraging for the former Brandon High star.

According to a posting by Schintzius' father, Ken, on an Ohio church Web site: "Dwayne had his bone marrow transplant at Moffitt Cancer center, all went well. Travis's donated bone marrow had more than the amount needed, now Dwayne begins the first day of the rest of his life, he will spend 17 days at Moffitt then go to an Apartment complex on McKinnley for 83 days (or less depending on how well he does). He cannot be more than 10 minutes from Moffitt. The next 60 days are crucial. Please keep him in your prayers."

But his condition apparently has not significantly improved.

"Since that time, things have changed," said Myrna Stall, Dwayne Schintzius' aunt. "The situation is not good. I can tell you that."

Stall, who is married to Ken Schintzius' stepbrother, described the family as "extremely private" and said this is "a very, very difficult time for them." She declined to give further details about Schintzius' condition.

Calls to the Schintzius family home in Brandon and his hospital room at Moffitt were unanswered Monday and Tuesday.

"I appreciate everybody being concerned, but the information needs to come from the family," Stall said. "I don't want to upset them in any way."

Scott Love, a close friend of Schintzius, said the family has been by his side at the hospital since he was diagnosed.

"He can't take visitors now," Love said. "It's just his mother, father and brother — they've been staying up there. I text message him, but right now he's still kind of out of it."

Schintzius mentioned to Love at lunch that he'd been feeling ill shortly before his diagnosis in early November.

"He thought he had the flu," Love said. "As soon as they found out, they put him in the hospital. When they found out, they were like, Man, you need to get to Moffitt now."

Love visited Schintzius often before his bone marrow transplant. He was placed in an induced coma for about two weeks before the procedure. Love said it has been a difficult few months for Schintzius.

"He was depressed," Love said. "He'd been there for a long time, so he was just wanting to get out. They did let him get out for Christmas, but he's just tired of being there."

The 7-foot-1 Schintzius played for the Gators from 1987-90, starting all 110 games he played in, averaging 14.8 points. In 1989, he was an Associated Press and Sporting News All-American and earned first-team All-SEC honors when he led the Gators in scoring (18) and rebounding (9.7). He is the only player in SEC history with more than 1,000 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists and 250 blocks. He holds the UF record for blocks.

He was a member of Florida's first SEC championship team (1988-89), and was a first-round draft choice of the San Antonio Spurs with the 24th overall pick. He played for six teams in his eight-year NBA career. He made his acting debut in the 1996 comedy Eddie with actor Whoopi Goldberg, playing a Russian basketball player.

Schintzius, one of the most dominating big men to ever play for the Gators, ended his UF career on a stormy note. After Gators coach Norm Sloan was fired, Schintzius was suspended by interim head coach Don DeVoe and ultimately left the team, reportedly after the two could not come to terms on team rules.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com. Her blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/gators.

Former Florida Gators basketball star Dwayne Schintzius being treated in Tampa for leukemia 02/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 12:45pm]
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