Know the Pro: Catching up with former BYU Basketball Star Travis Hansen

Tavis Hansen with the Dunk - BYU Photo

Pro Basketball, charity work, basketball clinics, and family time balance out the life of former Cougar Travis Hansen.

After over three decades of devoting his life to basketball, Travis Hansen is now looking to make the transition to a life that will take him through the next thirty years.  Most fans didn't start paying attention to Hansen until 2000, his first year at BYU.  With a year of ball at Utah Valley State College and  a two year mission under his belt, he came to BYU for three years and stole the hearts of Cougar fans everywhere.  Not only did he leave with a 44-1 record at home, but he left with all-MWC team honors and a Defensive Player of the year award in 2003.

Reflecting on BYU

When asked what was most memorable about his time in Provo, Hansen said "Being surrounded by great people that made me want to be a better player, person and priesthood holder, playing for an amazing University, in front of incredible fans, winning two MWC championships and finishing with a 44-1 record in the Marriott Center."  With so many memorable moments in Provo, there was bound to be some less than ideal moments but not winning every game leads the top of that list for him.

Travis continues to have ties with the BYU program as he considers Coach Dave Rose and Brian Santiago as two of his best friends.  Being teammates with Terry Nashif doesn't hurt either.  Like many Cougar fans, he truly believes that the Cougars have the best coaching staff in America and he attends every home game with his wife or children.  It isn't out of the realm of possibility that he could pursue a larger role with the program in the future, once he has more time, but at this point he will settle for doing whatever the program asks him to do and traveling to Spain with the team next year.

 

Time spent Overseas

After being the eighth pick in the 2nd round by the Alanta Hawks, Hansen played for a year with the Hawks but an injury limited his playing time.  From 2004-2011, Hansen played overseas with a number of teams.  During his time in Russia, he was granted Russian citizenship and was so well liked that there was talk of him playing for the Russian national team in the 2008 Olympics.

Travis and his wife LaRee had some incredible experiences while in Russia, and some of them led to life changing decisions.  One of these examples, as related below by Travis, helped direct the Hansen's into their worldwide charity work and has laid a foundation for present and future work.

"My wife and I had many personal spiritual experiences while in Russia. One of them was while reading in the bible during a difficult time when we were frustrated due to infertility problems. We read in Matthew which reads, "for my yoke is easy and my burden is light". My wife and I had the impression that we were in Russia for much more important reasons than to play basketball. We needed to stop thinking about ourselves and our problems. There was a work for us to do, people to help and if we were humble and willing to work we could be instruments in the Lord's hands."

 

Charity Work

This and other experiences led to the founding of the Little Hero's Foundation, now known as the Sunshine Hero's Foundation, which focuses on helping children worldwide.  Along with the founding sponsor, Nature's Sunshine, the foundation has helped children for over eight years and according to Travis:

"We have reached children in 18 countries, provided clean water to 117,483 people, awarded nearly $600,000 to 68 amazing organizations, carried out 6 large projects including; renovation of a hospital in Russia, built two schools in Africa, provided clean water to 50 schools in China, established a health clinic in Nepal and provided over 200 villages with clean water in Thailand. It is estimated that we have helped over 400,000 children to date."

Hansen and the foundation continue to support their past projects, but also keep an eye on future projects.  The current project includes providing Vitamin A deficient children worldwide with two doses of Vitamin A, at a minimal cost, until the age of six.  For more information on the Sunshine Hero's Foundation you can visit their website at www.herowithin.org.

Along with these other projects, Travis and his team have put on a basketball camp that is now in its eighth year.  The camp has been set up as not only a camp for youngsters, but is also a way that the community can be involved with the service provided by the foundation.  One example is that on the second day of the camp, the participants join in a service project that allows them to build and deliver over 300 take home food kits for local children. This camp takes place in July and to volunteer or register for the camp go to www.travishansen.com.

The Future

As is expected after a career change, it hasn't always been easy for Hansen.  Along with the excitement that comes with starting a new journey, the change from daily basketball, world travel, and competition to a more structured life and finding what he enjoys has led him to new opportunities.  As if raising four children isn't a full time job for Travis and LaRee, they also serve in the church, continue to help grow Sunshine Hero's and build businesses in the real estate and finance industries.  Travis says they are "lifetime learners" and so they hope to continue improving in all facets of life.  Don't be surprised if coaching is on his resume at some point as he loves to coach.  He currently coaches his sons in a variety of sports in order to teach them important life values, while spending unique quality time with them.

Fans of Hansen and the Cougars would love to see him continue this into the coaching ranks and back into the BYU family if possible.  As for now we can only admire the work and passion that he is putting into his post basketball career, just as he put into three decades of basketball.

 

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