Colorado linebacker can’t tackle leukemia

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Tyrone “Tiger” Bussey, a Colorado linebacker who remained committed to his team even when he was confined to a hospital bed, died at a Detroit hospital Friday after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 20.
Bussey was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after signing with Colorado as a member of the Buffaloes’ 1994 recruiting class. He fought to send the disease into remission, and the battle followed him on and off the field.
“He was a wonderful, wonderful person,” Colorado head coach Rick Neuheisel said. “It’s just a shame. He was a fighter, someone we all should admire and learn from. He truly loved life, and he never gave up the battle. The support he got from his family was tremendous, and all our hearts go out to them.”
Bussey was 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds when he signed with Colorado. He weighed 170 pounds when he reported in August 1994. His efforts in the weight room bolstered his weight to 230, but his weight dropped to as low as 145 this past summer.
Bussey received the first of two bone marrow transplants from his sister a month after the Buffs’ 1994 defeat of Michigan.
He returned to school the next August, after a bout with double pneumonia. Bussey participated in light conditioning work with his teammates before the Cotton Bowl.
In spring 1996, Bussey was able to practice in full pads. He had six tackles and two quarterback sacks in Colorado’s three April scrimmages. But signs of the disease returned.
Bussey had his second bone marrow transplant in July, and was in and out of the hospital during the summer and fall. Neuheisel had wanted to fly Bussey to Boulder for the September game with Michigan. Bussey, who was struggling with an intestinal disorder that causes frequent nausea, was too ill to travel.
“I don’t think anybody really knew how sick he was,” said senior defensive end Greg Jones. “He’d be out there running and trying. He’d have to stop sometimes, but then he would go right back at it. He was always full of life, a clown in the locker room. Everybody liked him and respected him. He never let on how sick he was, and I’ll always admire him for that.”
Bussey’s parents, Tyronee and Mildred, have not finalized funeral arrangements.