Inspiring one-armed volleyball player dies from cancer, but not until after one final fight and promise

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
One-armed New York volleyball player Eddie Nogay — YouTube
One-armed New York volleyball player Eddie Nogay — YouTube

A wildly inspiring New York boys volleyball player passed away after a long fight with lung cancer on Tuesday, bringing an end to the touching saga of one teen’s determination to continue playing the sport he loved even as his body was ravaged by disease.

As reported by the New York Post, 18-year-old one-armed Brooklyn (N.Y.) Fort Hamilton High senior Eddie Nogay was pronounced dead at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He had celebrated his 18th and final birthday just a day before, touchingly following through on a promise he made to his mother and brother, Victor, that he would not die before his 18th birthday and then that he wouldn’t die on his birthday itself.

Nogay’s official time of death made that final promise to live through his birthday his last success: He passed away at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.

“We always expected this,” Victor Nogay told the Post. “We had hope, but that was more like praying for a miracle. Eddie knew it. He was prepared for it. ... He was preparing us all week.’’

Nogay gained national attention in April, when he began competing on the Fort Hamilton boys volleyball team with only his left arm. His right arm had been amputated below the shoulder after a sarcoma was found in his right elbow in fall 2012, but he refused to stop competing in volleyball, and persisted through the entire 2013 season despite two collapsed lungs, even returning from a forced medical respite to score the first point of Fort Hamilton’s city playoff opener and eventually lead the team to the city quarterfinals.

The entire season was a fitting testament to Nogay as an athlete and a fighter. That fight continued all the way to his final day, when his family had planned to have a birthday party in the hospital.

Instead, the 50-odd classmates and friends who showed up to celebrate with Nogay found themselves giving final goodbyes to a teen who seemed to have inspired everyone he came across after his initial diagnosis.

“Eddie left an impact on people,” Victor Nogay told the Post. “There isn’t anything I can say he hasn’t already done himself.”

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