The whereabouts of Coniel Norman, Arizona's all-time leader with a 23.9 scoring average from 1972-74, were unknown at this time last year when his niece, in a desperate search for information, contacted members of the Tucson media.
"I just don't know what to do at this point," Cassie Norman wrote to the Tucson Citizen.
"He has never been one to ask for help," Cassie Norman said. "I think my uncle thought he wasn’t important to the history of Arizona (basketball). So this will give him confidence, which he truly needs, to be honest with you."
When interviewed Saturday by TucsonCitizen.com, Norman sounded surprised that his career at Arizona is still discussed. He said more than once that having his name still in the record books "is unreal because it's been so long ago (he played from 1972-74)."
Norman, a two-time All-WAC forward at Arizona, declared a hardship to enter the NBA draft and played three seasons in the league. But after his pro career and a stint in the Army ended he lost touch with family and friends.
Only when he became homeless and checked into a Los Angeles hospital was his family able to track him down.
According to the Citizen:
Depression forced him to seek help at a Los Angeles hospital in February. He never thought about giving up on his life; he needed reassurance of his place on Earth.
"It was a tough time for me," Norman said. "With the recession, I couldn't find a job. I needed some help, so that's why I went (to the hospital)."
Norman, 56, was without money and insurance.
Now Norman is living at a new apartment for homeless veterans in Detroit. He spoke at the complex's grand opening alongside mayor Dave Bing, who played in the NBA during Norman's time in the league. Norman is currently beginning a job training program.
His niece told the Citizen that anyone interested in providing assistance to Norman can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.