The Winningest Coach Chooses the Winningest Approach to Skin Cancer

Gary McKnight is the head basketball coach at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. At his time there he has become the winningest high school basketball coach in California history.

See the video of his story HERE.

Coach McKnight has led Mater Dei to more than 1250 victories, including a National Championship and 11 California State Titles. He has coached nine players who have gone on to play in the NBA.

More recently, he has faced a different battle. “At a regular checkup, my doctor saw a spot on my face and said, we’ve got to get you to the best, and referred me to the SCARS Center. I went in there and they said it required Mohs surgery. Two Mohs surgeries and big reconstructions on my face.”

McKnight had squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) on his cheek, neck and ear.

Dr. Adam Aronson and Dr. Matthew Goodman performed the Mohs surgery, followed by Dr. Simon Madorsky reconstructing the defects. “They all took good care of me. There is no guesswork. They get you in right on time, they explain what they need to do. I went in the morning and I walked out in the afternoon, cancer free and reconstructed.”

“I had four skin cancers­—the first two didn’t require plastic surgery, the last two did. It was major surgery. Dr. Madorsky was really caring and I’ve still got my good looks.”

At first, his students were worried about him, but his current students don’t even know it happened because he healed so well.

Coach McKnight is now an advocate for skin health and getting regular skin checks. “I really encourage people to go and get checked and stay on top of it. Especially here in Southern California where the sun is beating down. Probably being a basketball coach instead of a baseball coach saved my life, because I wasn’t out in the sun all the time. 

He is in charge of 86 young men and consistently reminds them about protecting their skin. 

“I talk to the kids all the time about wearing sunscreen when they go to the beach and surf. I say ‘put it on your ears, your nose, your forehead. Wear a baseball cap. You all know what happened to me.”