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Andrew Smith is seen on Dec. 22, 2012 in Indianapolis.
AJ Mast—AP

A former Butler University basketball star who helped drive his team to the national title game in successive years has died of cancer, his wife and university officials said Tuesday.

Andrew Smith passed away after a long battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which later turned into leukemia, according to the Indianapolis Star‎. He was 25. “Andrew peacefully passed away in his sleep and in my arms as I told him I loved him this morning,” his wife Samantha Smith wrote on Twitter. “Love you always, Smith.”

The 6-11 standout player played in the 2010 West Regional final against Kansas State. He logged a season-high 12 minutes in a 63-56 victory that propelled Butler University’s Bulldogs into their first Final Four, according to the Star. Smith helped lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back appearances in the national championship game in 2010 and 2011, the university said. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January 2014 and with leukemia late last year.

Butler President James Danko and Butler Vice President and Director of Athletics Barry Collier said Tuesday they were “profoundly sad” about Smith’s passing. “He fought valiantly,” they said in a statement. “We saw the way Andrew fought on the basketball court, and we saw the way he fought for his health. In both cases, we saw the best of Andrew Smith,” the statement said. “But that’s what we always saw from Andrew. He gave his all, all the time.”

“He represented the best of Butler in the classroom and on the court,” it continued. “Above all else, what made Andrew special was the way that he genuinely cared for others. Within his large frame was an even larger heart.”

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