It was a victory that began back in February, when the Twitter hashtag #LeBronMeetEbony went viral. That’s Ebony as in Ebony Nettles-Bey, a 16-year-old girls basketball player for Verona High School in Wisconsin who late last summer had trouble breathing and ultimately was diagnosed with stage-four Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer in the soft tissues.
The illness neither kept the junior from the court, at times taking chemotherapy and radiation treatment the same day as games, nor from her dream of meeting her idol, the Heat’s James.
Then came Saturday, when she was invited to the Bucks’ game against the Heat, told courtside seats were made available for her to watch James, perhaps have him run by in acknowledgment.
Only there was a whole lot more, the Heat and Bucks working behind the scenes on a night that would have her escorting the Heat from the locker room to the court, shooting pregame with the team, lining up alongside James for the national anthem, later receiving his game jersey.
“It meant everything to me,” she said, optimistic about her prognosis, saying her tumors are shrinking. “I just started crying, tears of joy.”
It might have meant even more to James.
“Basketball is a small part of our lives,” he said. “The way that it can impact someone else’s life, it puts it all in perspective. And what she’s going through, every single day, the challenges she’s facing every single day with the stage-four cancer that she has, she’s the stronger one out of us two.
“She’s unbelievable, and for me to be someone that in her last wish is to meet me, it’s like a ‘wow’ factor. It’s like, it puts it all in perspective knowing I have that much influence and that much, I don’t know, strength for someone to say that if I have one opportunity, I’m thinking, ‘Why not go to Disney World? Why not do something cool? Or why not do something way cooler?’ You know, ‘Why me? Why would you want to meet me as your last wish?’ It’s a blessing.”
James played in shoes inscribed with “Ebony Strong” and “#CancerWho.” Sun-Sentinel
How cool is this?
We often focus so much on the silly stuff that doesn’t matter, and it’s just a lot of fun to see James be able to give this sort of gift to a young fan. He’s always been a person who has found a way to remain grounded despite his success. He’s the total package, man.
His philanthropy has played a significant part in several communities which is something we should all be more mindful of. He is an example of how a star-athlete can use their success to help the lives of others, a possibility that most shy away from.
To see more videos and pictures of Ebony’s day with James, check out FanSided’s article on this special moment. – AL
Featured image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.