INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - While Tyler Hansbrough toils at Conseco, brother Ben bombs away in South Bend. By a twist of fate, the Missouri-native Hansbrough's have become Hoosier hard court hotshots, and each has had hurdles to overcome.
Tyler fought through rookie year injuries that kept him out for more than half the season, but he's got his hard-nosed edge back, he showed as player of the year at North Carolina.
Ben didn't fit in at his first collegiate stop in the SEC, but found a home with the Fighting Irish. Maybe it was a little luck of the Irish that brought Ben from Mississippi State to Notre Dame where he's become a leader both on and off the court. That also brought the three Hansbrough brothers back together in Indiana for the first time in years. Oldest brother Greg moved in with Tyler, making his professional transition easier, and mom and the boys couldn't be happier.
"It works, and that's a great thing when all your kids are in one state, and you fly in and you can see them and spend time with them all. So it works, and it's a great thing," said Tami Hansbrough, who now lives in North Carolina.
"It's pretty cool. I never thought, you know looking back on it, that we'd all be living in Indiana, and pretty close. Just to be able to come up and jet up here to see my brother play, so it's great," added Tyler.
"Me and Greg and Tyler have an unbelievable bond,” Ben said. “They're both my best friends. I think it's something special to know that they're just two and a half hours down the road. If something ever happened, I obviously would know where to go, and that's get in my car and go two and a half hours and hang out with Tyler and Greg.”
Watching the brothers play, the first thing you notice is how tough and competitive they both are — traits they built together as youngsters.
"Tyler has had a great influence on me. Seeing what he has done, and seeing his work ethic all through high school has really, I've almost molded that into my personality. His work ethic and his dedication, I've molded that into my game, and it really took my game to the next level. He's been a great inspiration," said Ben.
"Yeah we pushed each other a little bit. I mean we were always competitive if that's what you ask. I really enjoyed playing with him. I played with him for a couple years in high school and it was great. He was one of my favorite teammates," said Tyler.
Mom saw it firsthand through the bloody noses and bruises the brothers gave each other playing ball.
"They are each other's biggest supporters,” Tami said. “I mean they push each other, and it's only to bring out the best in each other."
And as far as Tyler and Ben's basketball prowess, leave it to Greg to get it right.
"If you buy gum you get Big Red or you get Eclipse. Either way they're going to freshen your breath and be great, but they're both different flavors," said Greg.
Irish coach Mike Brey saw both brothers build their games through high school.
"You know it's genetic. Certainly Tyler has that edge about him. I saw him as a young player down at the Peach Jam in Augusta, and I said, ‘Who is that guy?’ because he was wheeling and dealing and throwing guys into the bleachers and playing to win. Ben just does it from the guard spot,” said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.
His leadership has led the Irish to the top 10 in the toughest conference in the country. But if you ask either Tyler or Ben, what Greg has done has been the most impressive — beating a malignant brain tumor at age 7.
"There is no greater accomplishment me or Ty have achieved than what he's gone through with the brain tumor and learning how to walk again. I think that's the biggest, that's the biggest accomplishment that anybody, no matter individual awards for basketball or anything like that can compare to those,” said Ben, the youngest and scrappiest of the group.
"It is a tight knit family and it’s the ultimate family in having each others' back. I have a lot of respect for that family,” said Brey.
Greg capped it off: "Could you write a better storybook for it man? This is kind of fairytale stuff."