Michigan is ChadTough
Michigan is ChadTough

The players all wore “Michigan is ChadTough” shirts as their warm-ups. (Photo: Eric Bronson)

It was tough not to get goosebumps at today’s 61–56 down-to-the-wire thriller between Michigan and Purdue.

The Wolverines entered the game as underdogs to the 18th-ranked Boilermakers, having struggled in their last two games against top-tier opponents – Indiana and Michigan State – both at home. The first half ended with the game tight, 31-27, but the Wolverines were struggling from long range, hitting just 1-of-7 three-point baskets. They also left points on the table missing five free throws (6-of-11).

The game remained close throughout the second half. Both teams had shooting opportunities, but couldn’t get the ball to fall. With 4:56 left in the game, a Purdue layup gave the Boilermakers a 54-50 lead. Michigan went on to miss three straight three-point baskets.

Then Purdue hit a jump shot for a 56-50 advantage with 3:13 left.

Tammi Carr put her head in her hands and whispered to her little angel, Chad.

“I said, ‘if we win this, buddy, I know you’re here.'”

The Unthinkable

Michigan is ChadTough

Michigan head coach John Beilein coaching in front of a ChadTough-clad staff, team, and crowd. (Photo: Eric Bronson)

It was as though someone hit a switch for the Wolverines.

First Zak Irvin hit a three-point basket to make it a one-possession game. Then Derrick Walton, Jr., fought hard for a layup inside. Then another basket by Irvin gave Michigan the 57-56 lead with 1:09 to go. Purdue wouldn’t score another point and the Wolverines iced it with four free throws by Walton down the stretch.

What was really crazy, though, was that Michigan became the first team this season to out-rebound Purdue. The Boilermakers entered the game with 1,028 total rebounds compared to the Wolverines’ 761, yet all four of Purdue’s missed shots in the final 2:13 of the game were swiftly rebounded by Michigan.

“Chad Carr, I think, was batting the ball around to us as a little angel somewhere and we were getting the ball,” said Michigan head basketball coach John Beilein. “We ended up being able to get enough done so they didn’t get too many second opportunities.”

A huge win for Michigan basketball made extra sweet by the fact that the players and coaches achieved it while outwardly supporting The ChadTough Foundation.

The Support

Michigan is ChadTough

Plenty of ChadTough signs adorned the crowd during Saturday’s game. (Photo: Eric Bronson)

Tammi and Jason Carr say they have felt the overwhelming prayers and support from their community since Chad was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, on September 23, 2014. Since Chad gained his angel wings this past November 23, they have channeled that support and their grief into raising awareness and money for DIPG research.

Today was a product of the unwavering support from Coach Beilein and his wife, Kathleen, who was the driving force behind the coaching staff, players, and Maize Raige all wearing “Michigan is ChadTough” shirts during the game. The Beileins not only made sure it all happened, they purchased the 500 shirts the Maize Rage wore.

“It was a special weekend with The ChadTough Foundation and what we could accomplish bringing awareness to DIPG,” said Coach Beilein after the game.

The Challenge

Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge

Help all of the families fighting this battle with DIPG and vote for Coach Beilein to win $100,000 for ChadTough.

Coach Beilein has been a huge advocate for the cause, representing The ChadTough Foundation in this year’s Infiniti Coaches Charity Challenge. Coach Beilein has led the competition by a substantial amount since it began on January 4, with the third of four rounds beginning Monday at 1 p.m..

Fans can vote at espn.com/infiniti once per day – the only requirement is an ESPN account that is free of charge.

“We need to win this challenge for Chad and all of these kids who have fought so bravely against DIPG,” said Tammi after the game. “Please continue to vote!”

The Emotions

To tangibly see the support from the coaches, players, media, fans, and students, is understandably emotional for the Carrs. The community genuinely cares about them and their mission to find a cure for DIPG, which is successfully spreading awareness.

Head Coach John Beilein

Coach Beilein’s first-ever game wearing a t-shirt. (Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)

“Bawling my eyes out after the game because I just knew Chad was in that arena,” Tammi said after the game. “Then Coach Beilein on the radio and in the locker room after the game telling everyone that he just felt Chad was there batting away basketballs. Then he tells me that it’s a big win for the team but also a big win for DIPG. This man gets it!”

Coach Beilein didn’t just speak about ChadTough after the game, he was willing to go out of his comfort zone during it. The “Michigan is ChadTough” t-shirt he wore on the bench was the first non-dress shirt he has ever worn in nearly 1,200 games as a collegiate head basketball coach.

The significance of that wasn’t lost on Jason and Tammi, who are more than familiar with how a coach’s mind works. (Jason’s dad, Lloyd, just happened to coach 13 years as Michigan’s head football coach). The last thing the pair would have wanted was a big loss after moving away from such a long-standing tradition.

Turns out there was no need to worry, though, after the big Michigan victory.

“He’s 1–0 in a t-shirt,” said Jason.