CAN'T HOLD THIS TIGER

May 05, 1996

SI's Christian Stone reports on the hero of Colorado's spring
football game last Saturday:

Freshman defensive end Tyronee (Tiger) Bussey Jr. participated
in 11 plays and made two tackles and a sack, a seemingly
less-than-spectacular performance for a player who as a high
school senior in the fall of 1993 was rated among the nation's
best prospects. But it was a small miracle that Bussey took the
field at all. In March '94 he was diagnosed as having acute
nonlymphocytic leukemia, a disease that severely weakened his
immune system. The leukemia triggered a series of medical crises
that included the rupturing of his appendix and the
deterioration of his colon. Bussey underwent a bone-marrow
transplant on Nov. 3, 1994, but his enfeebled immune system
could not ward off a case of double pneumonia that left him in a
coma for two weeks in June '95. Since then, however, he has
steadily gained strength, and he began full-contact workouts in
December. "I'm not saying I was never scared, but I had that
football player mentality," says Bussey, whose disease is in
remission. "I thought I was indestructible. I would just tell
myself the disease was like a knee injury. Eventually I would
beat it." Such spirit came as no surprise to Tiger's parents,
Tyronee Sr. and Mildred, who used to walk into their infant
son's bedroom and find the spokes of his crib strewn about the
floor. "He tore them out," recalls Mildred. "He hated being
caged in that crib. So we nicknamed him Tiger. Oh, that Mr.
Tiger--did he ever have some fight in him."

Bussey's battle is not over. It may be another five years before
doctors know whether he is completely rid of the leukemia. But
Bussey is back with his teammates, playing the game he loves.
Although Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel speculates that it will
be a year before Bussey is ready to challenge for a starting
role, he has pledged that Tiger will be on the field for the
season-opening kickoff against Washington State on Aug. 31. "I
still have a ways to go," Bussey says, "but I plan to see this
comeback through."

COLOR PHOTO: TIM DEFRISCO Tiger's return to action for the Buffaloes was a sign that he isn't ready to write off his career. [Young girl getting autograph from Tyronee (Tiger) Bussey Jr.]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)