For Chandler Parsons – who had a fantastic all-around game with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists – the game meant more for a different reason. If you saw the game on ESPN, you may have heard about the reason behind the forward’s suddenly-shaved head. If you missed it, Jason Friedman of Rockets.com has the special story:
For well over a year now, his body has been in a state of all-out revolt in the form of Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that attacks the autonomic nervous system. He’s been left weak, pale and bald by the bone marrow transplant he underwent about a month ago that represents just the latest attempt to beat this insidious disease.
Patrick has already undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy in an effort to eradicate the tumors clinging to his spine and skull. He has endured searing physical pain in the form of sores that start in his mouth and weave their way through his body’s every orifice. And he has withstood the emotional torment of coming face-to-face with a disease that has left millions of victims in its wake. His family has been by his side and undoubtedly dealt with their own acute, daily suffering. But Patrick’s particular form of pain and anguish is his and his alone. This is his cross to bear.
So in an effort to regain their equilibrium and provide a much-needed morale boost, they reached out to Rockets’ CEO Tad Brown to see if there might be some way a player or two could drop by the hospital for a brief visit. Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin immediately answered the bell. Since then James Harden and Dwight Howard have spent quality time with Patrick as well.
But it is Parsons who has formed the tightest bond with Patrick, with each providing the other something neither one could have possibly anticipated or foreseen. For Patrick, the hospital visits and in-game, personal gestures from his real life hero produce the kind of eager anticipation and ear-to-ear smiles that can be the nourishing lifeblood necessary for any person or family that finds themselves locked in a perpetual battle between hope and doubt, life and death. Parsons, meanwhile, has been exposed to a brand of heroism that strikingly transcends anything that can be found on a basketball court. He was so moved after visiting Patrick last week, in fact, that he decided to shave his own head as a sign of solidarity. Parsons’ signature locks were shorn last night.
“The kid is so strong and so brave,” he says of Patrick. “Here I am going to see a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail and this kid is battling for his life. How he handles it is incredible. It’s similar to what we do: He tries to not look ahead and he tries to not look behind. He game plans for every single day and every day is a new day and a new challenge. He just tries to plan and do what he’s got to do for that day to survive.
“To go through what he’s going through and to be so positive, it’s an inspiration.”
After the contest, Parsons gave Patrick a shoutout:
Merry Christmas Patrick, that was for you.
— Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons) December 26, 2013
NBA players have such a strong impact on kids and fans all over the world, and it’s a blessing when they utilize that impact to make a positive difference around them. The situation is obviously a difficult one for Patrick, so it is absolutely wonderful to see Parsons doing all he can to step up and be there for his newest friend.
James Park is the chief blogger of Sheridan Hoops. You can find him on twitter @SheridanBlog.