Broward girls’ basketball

Cardinal Gibbons guard Deniz Ozaltin giving the best assist of her life

 

For Deniz Ozaltin, helping her mother battle cancer has given her inspiration to be a better player and student.

flyon@MiamiHerald.com

In a twist of fate, Cardinal Gibbons senior guard Deniz Ozaltin is returning a labor of love to the mother — Mirtha Ozaltin — who made her life’s work providing whatever her daughter needed.

As if juggling an honors curriculum and orchestra recitals during a grueling basketball season wasn’t enough, Deniz Ozaltin said being a caretaker for her mother, who has cancer, makes a hectic schedule worthwhile.

“My mom inspires me a lot,” Deniz said. “She has built a lot of courage in me. She has been my backbone. At this time she needs all the help she can get. I help her walk around the house and get her food and medications. It’s my turn to give her whatever she needs.”

Mirtha Ozaltin doesn’t get out to many games as she used to, but she appreciates the huge dose of affection she receives from the Chiefs’ extended family.

That much was evident when Mirtha Ozaltin received the star treatment from players, coaches, faculty and fans when she attended two home games (both victories) this season.

Chiefs coach Kevin Gordon said his team has rallied around the fighting spirit Deniz has shown by caring for her mother.

During the rare occasions Deniz needed a shoulder to lean on, she has turned to Kristen Pollock and Katie Mae Lanzon, her best friends on the team.

“Deniz just has great character,” Gordon said. “I don’t know what it feels like to be in her shoes. All I know it’s not easy. Her mom is a fighter just like Deniz. This is teaching our kids a part of life. It has helped everyone come together.”

Gordon said Deniz’s selflessness as the chase defender in the Chief’s diamond-and-one zone has set the tone for a surprising season. The Chiefs (9-2) have played without All-Broward first-team forward Kiara Robinson, who is out with an injury, but somehow managed to stay in the Class 4A state-title hunt.

Deniz said her mother’s health ordeal, which started in 2006, has forced her to develop a sense of urgency toward reaching her goal to become a trial lawyer.

Deniz participated in a mock trial in Washington, D.C., two years ago, which only reinforced a desire to have her mother see her graduate from law school.

“Everything I do I keep my mom in the back of my mind,” Deniz said. “Whether winning a game or graduating college.

“What she is going through has strengthened me as a person. I am able to go through a lot of situations that most people my age can’t and not be affected.”

Read more Broward High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

  • Roundup

    Two Cooper City athletes sign with colleges

    Cooper City pitcher and first baseman Johnny Haney signed a scholarship with the Point Park University (Pittsburgh) baseball team. The left-hander is 6-0 so far this season with 31 strikeouts, three complete games and 1.28 ERA. He is hitting .317 with a homerun, 13 RBI and 16 runs scored.

  •  
Kristi Isabelle, a home schooled senior representing the South Florida HEAT Team, won the 300m hurdle during the Region 4-1A track meet on Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014, at Killian.

    Track and field

    Westminster’s James achieves rare sprint triple at regionals

    Westminster Academy’s Andrew James showed the Region 4-1A field at Dade Christian why he’s become one of the biggest box office draws in Florida.

  • Water Polo

    STA sweeps to district titles

    Anna Smith-Johnson scored three goals as St. Thomas Aquinas put a halt to Fort Lauderdale’s improbable turnaround season in Thursday’s District 10 title game at Fort Lauderdale.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category