Cuonzo Martin is most recently known as a well-distinguished basketball coach but also has a history in the sport as a former player. Currently, Martin is the head coach of the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team. He commenced his coaching career with Purdue University, his alma mater, as an assistant for eight years. He then obtained his first head coaching position at Missouri State and also spent time with the Tennessee Volunteers at the University of Tennessee before being hired by the Golden Bears. Prior to coaching, Martin grew up in Illinois in the 1970’s and ‘80’s and alongside former professional player LaPhonso Ellis, was voted one of the “100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament” in high school. At 6’6”, Martin went on to play for Purdue University and after doing great things there, was selected in the second round of the 1995 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. Martin ultimately only played in seven games throughout his professional career, as he was diagnosed with a form of cancer known as lymphoma. He fought through it with admirable courage before returning to Purdue to finish earning his degree and serve as an assistant coach. Martin’s fought so admirable and overcame his challenge with such grace that the Cuonzo Martin Challenge Award was established in his name to help raise funds for cancer research.
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