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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Default Roy Hibbert is a class act

    Wish this little guy best of luck.

    Lee Eddins had hoped he would be able to watch his idol, center Roy Hibbert, play in person when the Indiana Pacers visit Sacramento, Calif., for a game against the Kings in late November.

    But Lee, 12, is not expected to live that long.

    Diagnosed with stage four leukemia six months ago, Lee has been told he might only have a couple of weeks left to live.

    So Hibbert has planned a special surprise. Later this week, he is flying to Sacramento to meet Lee.

    "Once I heard he had a dying wish, I knew I had to do something more than send him presents and Skype with him on the computer," Hibbert said.

    "I'm usually uncomfortable going to hospitals when the Pacers do events because it's pretty tough to see kids in that situation. Once I heard about (Lee), I realized I had to get over it and do it for him."

    Lee has spent his entire young life in California. Hibbert grew up in the Washington D.C. area before joining the Pacers out of Georgetown in 2008. So where did Lee's admiration for Hibbert come from?

    "Lee's followed Roy since he was back at Georgetown," Eddins legal guardian Victor Baker said. "Lee likes players from all over the NBA, but there's something about Roy that he liked. I didn't even know he had heard of Roy Hibbert before."

    Now Lee will get to meet the 7-footer, and for at least several hours, perhaps focus on something other than the ordeal he's been enduring the past few months.

    Lee had what Baker thought were typical "cold or flu symptoms" at the start of the last school year. They bought some over-the-counter medication but Lee's symptoms didn't improve.

    So the Bakers -- after many late nights -- took Lee to the hospital. A doctor told them Lee showed signs of being anemic.

    "They said he had some kind of blood disorder," Baker said. "They gave him a blood transfusion and that's when he was diagnosed with leukemia. It's the monosomy 7 acute myeloid leukemia, which made him have to have a bone marrow transplant because chemotherapy wouldn't be enough to combat the leukemia. He needed the transplant in order to have a chance to survive."

    Instead of playing basketball and football, Lee spent the following months hoping a bone marrow match would be found.

    African-Americans have less than a 17 percent chance to find a match compared to 70 percent for Caucasians, according to the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

    The Baker's held a bone marrow drive, which entails a simple swab inside the cheek, for Lee.

    Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson went to visit Lee at his home.

    "These kids are forced to grow up so fast when something like this happens. The leukemia Lee has is one of the most serious types of cancer that you can have," said Jamahl Miller, who is on the advisory board for blood source in Sacramento, Calif., and a friend of Baker. It was Miller who started the line of communcation that ultimately led to Hibbert.

    Lee finally had the transplant in June. But what he thought would be a happy time turned out to be a major disappointment because the bone marrow didn't take.

    Lee and the Bakers continued to fight.

    They were prepared to try a second transplant when Lee developed an infection in his left lung. It eventually spread throughout both lungs.

    "The doctors did a CT scan to see how his lung was doing, but it was getting worse because the infection was spreading more," Baker said. "The doctors finally decided they didn't want to put him through another round of chemo because it would pretty much suppress his immune system and they didn't feel like he would be able to handle it."

    Lee moved from the UC Davis Medical Center to hospice care last week. Family members flew in from around the country last week for a cookout where lots of laughs and tears were shared.

    "It's tough because you don't want to see any kid go through anything such as this," Baker said. "He's just 12 years old. He's a good kid who had a future ahead of him. It's tough on everybody. We were thrust into this back in February."

    Hibbert knows his visit with Lee won't save the boy's life. He simply wants to enjoy the time they will share and try to lift Lee's spirits as much as possible.

    Hibbert also plans to have his mouth swabbed to see if he's a bone marrow match.

    "I've had two family members die of cancer," Hibbert said. "It's tough. I seriously don't know what I'm going to say to Lee. I'm just going to be myself. If I can get a smile out of him that will be great."

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