Oregon basketball fans remember Doug "Cowboy" Little as a tough guy — you had to be to play for Dick Harter — who epitomized the rough-and-tumble ethic of the "Kamikaze Kids" of the early 1970s.
Little, who had been recruited by Harter's predecessor, Steve Belko, thrived as an undersize 6-3 forward during his final two seasons at Oregon. He was a player Duck fans loved and opponents loved to hate.
Little was drafted by both the NBA (Buffalo Braves, fourth round) and the American Basketball Association (San Diego Conquistadors, third round of the supplementary draft) in 1973, but never played professionally.
He and his wife, Carla, and their three children split their time between the Portland area and Eugene through the years since, with Doug working as a lumber broker for 35 years.
In his 50s, Little developed diabetes. A little more than two years ago, something more serious occurred.
Doug and his wife were preparing for a flight to Phoenix when he came down with what he thought was the flu. Then it got worse.
"I was spitting up blood the morning before the flight," he said. "I told Carla, if we get to Phoenix and this is still happening, I'm going to the emergency room."
Little flew to Phoenix and was admitted to the hospital for two days of testing. After arriving back in Portland a week later, he saw his primary care physician, who did more tests.
"A few days later, I got a call," Little said. "They said, 'You have to go back to the emergency room. Your kidneys are shutting down.'"
Since then, Little, now 68, has undergone dialysis treatments three days a week.
"I get up at 4 a.m., I'm there by 5, I'm on the machine by 5:30 and I'm off at 10," he said. "The first year was tough. I was having health issues. My appetite was terrible. I was sleeping a lot during the day and not at night. I lost 35 pounds. I can live with it. I just don't have a lot of energy."
Little — who is working part-time as a logistics salesman for a shipping company out of Salt Lake City — and his wife are moving from Portland back to Eugene next month to be closer to one of their daughters, Kelly, and their grandchldren.
Doug is on a transplant list at Portland's Good Samaritan Hospital.
"I'm told my wait may be two to three years," he said.
(People interested in becoming a donor can register with Donate Life Northwest at donatelifenw.org.)
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)