After a Serious Health Scare, Devil Looks at the Basketball Court from a New Angle

Joseph Nigro, Junior Business Administration Major and Devils Power Forward


By Sara Campione

Joseph Nigro stands in front of a white background

(Photo: Bill Cardoni)

Joseph Nigro is taking life by the Devil horns after a hit to his chest changed his life in 2020.

“I went down but then just kept playing through it,” says Nigro, a junior business administration major and power forward. Heading into halftime against Kings College, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he was having a hard time breathing and was pale. 

“I told my coach I needed to come out, which I never do. He knew something was wrong.” After being assessed by the trainer, Nigro went to a nearby hospital for further evaluation. Routine hospital test results came back normal.

A year and three months later, in May 2021, feeling unwell and having difficulty breathing once again, Nigro discovered a small bump on his chest. A trip to the hospital and numerous tests revealed Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Stage 2B. “Hodgkin’s is a very common cancer, and it’s common in young kids like me. Stage 2B has a 95-percent survival rate. I just had to do what I had to do to get through it,” says Nigro.

After receiving treatment, with the support of his family and the FDU community, Nigro got word that he was cancer free. “I always say just take it one day at a time.”

Then, in the 2021–22 season, Nigro participated in practices and attended games before realizing it was becoming difficult to play. He pivoted and took on a new role with the team as a coaching assistant.

On the sidelines, Nigro sees the game from a different angle. “There’s a difference from being a player and seeing your coach act the way he does and being on the sidelines and seeing how your coach handles things,” he says.

The years of knowledge he’s accrued from playing, along with already knowing the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates, made it possible for him to assist the coaching staff.

“I gained a lot of insight on how to help and how to coach certain athletes; what goes into practices and recruiting; plus more knowledge of the game just by talking about basketball with our coaches.”

As for next season, Nigro remains focused on his recovery and is unsure if he will don a Devils jersey. “If I do get back on the court, I plan on motivating my teammates. No matter what my role is with the team, I plan on helping in the best way possible to hopefully deliver a championship to FDU.”

Joseph Nigro, Junior Business Administration Major and Devils Power Forward


Nigro is a big fan of the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, but “Wolf of Wall Street” is his favorite film.


He enjoys watching sports and roots for the New York Giants, New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Nets.


Working with Team Impact — a nonprofit that tackles the emotional trauma and social isolations experienced by children facing serious and chronic illnesses — and the men’s basketball team, Nigro signed Jaeden, a 13-year-old from North Plainfield, N.J., to the Devils team. The team connects with Jaeden over video games, and Jaeden has attended some of the Devils’ home games.

Nigro also started a nonprofit called the Fight Strong Foundation to help raise money to support people who are fighting, or have fought cancer.

More about upcoming fundraisers and how to donate at