Mahela Jayawardene, without a shred of doubt, is one of the greatest cricketers in the history of the game and a successful coach in franchise T20 cricket. Hailing from a country where kids at that time used to get up from bed listening to the sound of bomb explosions, Jayawardene overcame personal harrowing experiences to become an icon and a legend of the game.
Jayawardene's batting was an extension of his personality. He was calm, technically sound and composed batter and was no different in personal life as well.
But this calmness and serenity had been won from a tragedy, his younger brother's death to be precise.
Dhishal, as Jayawardene's brother was named, was a great cricketer in school cricket and his family members reckoned that he was a better player than Jayawardene. Dhishal, at the age of 14, played for his school team as an opener that was skippered by his brother.
All of a sudden, Dhishal was diagnosed with brain cancer in less than a year.
Being aware of the fact that facilities necessary for treatment were not available in Sri Lanka for this condition, Mahela's father Senerath Jayawardena took Dhishal to the United Kingdom for treatment and he underwent surgery there. The treatment continued for two and a half years but he eventually lost the battle to cancer.
The demise of Dhishal really struck Jayawardene. He couldn't play cricket for some time.
But it gave him a perspective. He thought that many families cannot even have the chance to treat cancer because of financial problems. He thought of doing something for them.
He took part in a walk from Point Pedro to Dondra Head to raise funds for a Cancer Hospital in Karapitiya as he frequently gets involved in raising funds for cancer treatment centres.
Jayawardene led plans to build 750-bed cancer dedicated hospital in Maharagama, which is the main cancer hospital in Sri Lanka.
Jayawardene keeps a photograph of Dhishal with him all the time and the cancer projects are very close to his heart.