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Coach Emanuel Bell battles lung cancer, plans to coach this season

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Coach Bell

Longtime Wenonah girls basketball coach Emanuel Bell, one of Alabama’s most successful high school basketball coaches, is undergoing treatment for lung cancer, he announced Wednesday afternoon at Birmingham Basketball Media Day.

Bell said his cancer is in stage four, but he’s hopeful of what he termed a miracle.

“Well, you know, you have to have faith,” Bell said. “I have faith in God, and I’m just holding on to his hand. He’s delivered me so far, to where I am today. So, I feel like he’s going to continue to deliver me (so I can continue to) help save these kids, get them to college. Just try to impact lives.”

Bell wants his players focused on the season, not his situation. It’s a tough challenge because of the bonds Bell has built over the years, making him one of the most respected and loved coaches in the state.

Wenonah enters this season as the defending Class 5A state champion. In March, Bell coached Wenonah to its third consecutive AHSAA Class 5A girls title, defeating Central-Tuscaloosa 58-33 in the championship round. The championship marked his fourth at the Birmingham school.

Related: Wenonah 58, Central-Tuscaloosa 33: Dragons win 3rd straight title with suffocating pressure defense

Bell said he was diagnosed with cancer in August. After a busy summer of coaching AAU basketball, Bell fell ill. He checked into a hospital with pneumonia. That’s when he was diagnosed.

Bell said he has not smoked for about three decades.

He called the team from the hospital. With the phone on speaker, he told them his diagnosis, with one request: Don’t feel pity for him.

As of last season, Bell has won 454 high school varsity wins, all at Wenonah. Even more important: Bell said approximately 90 percent of his players leave Wenonah to attend college.

This season, Bell said he plans to be on the Wenonah bench – with the support of his assistant coaches, which includes Kenneth Lang, Tameka Dennis and others.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, which offers Bell an opportunity to share his story in person with the public. On Nov. 16, Wenonah will play local rival Ramsay, and Bell is expected to utilize the stage to deliver a message of cancer awareness to his many friends, colleagues and fans.

Bell said he’s preparing for his fourth treatment, set for later this month. More tests will follow.

“We’ll see what the doctors have done, and we’ll see what God has done. I believe in miracles with him, and I believe he’s going to work a miracle with me.

“But whatever he does, I’m willing to accept.   Complete article