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The inspirational story behind Carmelo's Aces In Action hat

Courtesy Jon Lopez.

One of the few things worth remembering about the 2014-15 New York Knicks is Carmelo Anthony’s post-game hat choice.

Carmelo’s provocative hats became a light-hearted talking point for Knicks fans amid a season full of misery.

(If you need a refresher, here's one and here's another)

One hat in Anthony’s collection, though, means a little more to the star forward, and to the man behind it.

It’s a red hat with a spade symbol, and it signifies one basketball player’s effort to fight a disease that cut his father’s life tragically short.

The player’s name is Brian Kortovich and he started the foundation Aces In Action, to honor his late father, Joseph Kortovich, who died from appendix cancer when Brian was 10.

Brian used basketball as a cathartic release following his father’s death. That release soon turned into a life-long passion.

Kortovich played professionally in Kuwait, France, Israel and the Dominican Republic. He’s made a name for himself locally by getting invited to the Knicks’ and then-New Jersey Nets’ preseason camps, thanks to an uncanny outside shot.

In 2012, Kortovich won the scoring title in the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at famed Rucker Park in Harlem, earning the nickname “Smokin’ Aces” along the way.

Now, basketball serves as a portal for a greater purpose.

Kortovich uses the game to promote cancer awareness.

His non-profit section of his charity organizes cancer walks, charity basketball games and provides free basketball camps for youth in underserved sections of New York City. A percentage of the proceeds from “Aces” hat and clothing sales go directly to the Jimmy V Foundation – an organization dedicated to cancer research. Kortovich says his father’s memory fuels his work.

“It was my way to honor his legacy by turning a such a negative situation into a positive one,” he said. “I know my immediate family, my mother, sister and I, are not the only ones who have struggled and lost a loved one to cancer…. To those battling cancer and their loved ones, we want to provide hope and support, knowing that they are not going through this alone.”

Kortovich’s efforts to battle such a devastating disease have inspired many, including Anthony.

“Brian is using basketball as a platform to create awareness for cancer research. We all have a part to play in the causes we feel most passionate,” Anthony said. “Looking forward to see what Brian does next."