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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Admiral Farragut boys basketball coach Mike Wells, who won a state title during the 2003-04 season, had surgery two weeks ago to remove a malignant brain tumor.
Wells, 53, was hospitalized for days while undergoing tests. Doctors discovered he had a glioblastoma multiforme tumor in the left frontal lobe of the brain.
The first signs of the illness surfaced in the summer when he complained of headaches, said his wife, Valerie. He went to the hospital Sept. 16 and had surgery to remove the lemon-sized tumor four days later.
The tumor, which contains a mixture of cell types, is one of the most difficult brain tumors to treat, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. Though one cell type is responsive to treatment, other types wait for their chance to take over.
Headaches, seizures, memory loss and behavioral changes are the most common symptoms.
Wells returned home Sept. 23 and is undergoing radiation treatments. He will not be able to coach this season.
Admiral Farragut headmaster Bob Fine said assistant coach Anthony Lawrence will take over the varsity.
"Everyone was stunned about Mike," Fine said. "We're all pulling for him to recover."
Wells started his coaching career at Orangeville High in Illinois in 1980. Three years later, he was at Keswick Christian, where he spent 15 years. In 1999, he went to Admiral Farragut. His career coaching record is 614-283.
"It's a tough situation, but we've had so much support through all of this," Valerie Wells said. "We've had hundreds of e-mails and cards, and that really helps Mike."