It may not completely explain it, but the reasons for Cal cornerback Darian Hagan's disappointing 2009 season are a lot more clear. Hagan disclosed recently that his then 1-year-old daughter, Kaiyana, battled cancer all through last season. She was diagnosed in May 2009 with Wilms' tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer that primarily affects toddlers. She had chemotherapy treatments during the season. Kaiyana lives with her mother, Kimiye Hampton, in Los Angeles, so Hagan rarely saw his daughter as she fought the illness. Combined with the fact he was struggling to stay academically eligible and also lost his starting job, Hagan felt overwhelmed at times during 2009.
"Me being up here, I couldn't be by her side," Hagan said. "It took a toll on me. I got behind in a lot of stuff as far as school and football." Hagan thought of quitting school and returning to Los Angeles to be by Kaiyana's side, but his mother, Pier Bruce, talked him out of it. Hagan had worked hard to remain academically eligible at Cal and was too close to getting a degree in social welfare to walk away from it.
Bruce said they took Kaiyana to the doctor after they noticed her stomach was swelling. When she was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor, it was Bruce who called Hagan to deliver the news. "Darian was ready to give up," Bruce said. "He was yelling and screaming. He wanted to come home to be his daughter's father. I told him he didn't struggle and come this far just to give up. Kaiyana needed him to do what he was doing, to stay focused. But it kind of took over his head. I think it definitely showed in his play."
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