The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 30, 2010

Mountaineers’ Butler has big heart

Forward visits fan who had heart attack during recent WVU game

MORGANTOWN — If West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler needed a reminder — which is highly unlikely — of just how passionate and maniacally mad Mountaineer fans are about their basketball team, he got one Monday.

Seems that a 74-year-old fan from Upshur County was watching a recent Mountaineer game when she suffered a heart attack.

The paramedics were quickly summoned.

Before they could administer any care, however, Agnes Channel flatly told them, under no uncertain terms, that she wasn’t going anywhere until the game was over.

There were eight minutes left in the game.

“So she was sitting there with a heart attack and she watched the last eight minutes of the game,” Butler said Tuesday before practice at the WVU Coliseum. “And not only that, but she probably sat there for some of the postgame celebration, too.”

Butler was so impressed that he went and visited Channel in the hospital Monday.

Safe to say, Channel was impressed, too.

When Butler walked into her room, she immediately smiled.

“Do you know who that is?” Butler remembers her husband Orval asking. “She just smiled and said, ‘Is that who I think it is?’”

Butler said Channel serves as an inspiration to him as WVU heads to the Final Four where the Mountaineers meet Duke at 8:47 p.m. Saturday in the Final Four in Indianapolis.

“For her to do that, it shows what this means to the fans, to the university and to the state,” Butler said.

There’s no doubting what Butler has meant to the Mountaineers (31-6).

He leads the team in scoring (17.4 ppg) and assists (117). He is tied for the team lead with 36 steals and is third in rebounding (6.3 per game).

Those kind of stats helped Butler earn second-team status on the Associated Press All-America team Monday.

Ironically, none of the first five are still on a team left standing.

Butler’s trip to the hospital didn’t surprise his coach, Bob Huggins.

“Da’ is a great guy,” Huggins said. “We have a bunch of great guys. But when your leader is also a great guy, the other guys see that.”

Butler was also happy to report that everything is going well with Channel.

“She’s still in the hospital but she’s doing great, so it turned out well,” he said. “She said we have been giving her a heart attack all season.”

And a lot of memories, too.

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