On October 9, 2008, Will Zarifi passed away following a three-year struggle with brain cancer, finally succumbing to an anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumor. Will, a Tucson native, had been valedictorian of the Marshall School of Business at USC as well as the men’s basketball team manager.
Today, Will’s brother, Sami, a current UA student recalls his battle, “When Will was sick, I saw how he lost all of his strength from cancer,” says Sami. “He was a 230 pound, 6 foot 3, really strong, athletic and intelligent guy. He passed away at about 170 pounds and it just showed me how much willpower he had because he never complained, he never lost spirit. It showed me that even though cancer can take away any physical strength that you might have, it can never take away the willpower that comes within you.”
However, Will’s brother, Sami, a current UA student, saw something special shining through his brother’s struggle.
Inspired by his brother’s refusal to give up, Sami conceived a way to honor Will’s spirit and resolve. “I had a poster in my room that said ‘willpower,’ and I was looking at it and I was like, ‘you know willpower is such a crazy idea. What if we did something special with it? What if we made something out of it? Let’s do a clothing line that inspires people to push themselves to the limit.’”
Featuring inspirational wristbands and men’s and women’s t-shirts, proceeds from the clothing line directly benefit research at the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center. But Sami didn’t want to stop there. Because of his brother’s connection with the sports world, Sami knew that he had to get athletes directly involved with WillPower.
So in addition Wildcats like Chase Budinger, Richard Jefferson and Luke Walton, USC’s Nick Young, Taj Gibson and others have lent support to the movement through mentions on Twitter and Facebook. Derrick Williams, a close friend, also lent a hand by appearing in apromotional video and making an appearance at the line’s launch in the BookStore.
“We want all people to embrace willpower. No matter what you want to do, it takes willpower to succeed,” says WillPower marketing director, T.J. McCauley. McCauley also adds that he and Zarifi hope WillPower can gain a foothold at the UA before branching to other schools in the Pac-12.
Sami’s ultimate goal for honoring his brother, and for making the UA a better place, is simple: “The question we want to inspire at the UA is do you, as an individual, have what it takes to embrace your willpower?
So. Do you?