As cynical as society has become, it’s impossible not to wonder if NBA players see their league-sanctioned charity and community initiatives as opportunities to connect with the less fortunate, or just part of the job description.
Which makes it all the more noteworthy when a player goes out of his way to heal and hearten out of genuine grace, as the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul has in befriending University of Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery’s 14-year-old son Patrick, who recently underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumor from his thyroid.
From ESPN Los Angeles’ Arash Markazi:
Paul called him before and after the surgery and tweeted out a message of support. The McCaffery family attended the Clippers' shootaround before Monday's game, with Patrick playing basketball with Paul and joining the team huddle after practice. After the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers invited the family into the locker room, and Paul presented Patrick with his game-worn shoes.
According to head coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers arranged for the two to meet on the night of L.A.’s game with the Minnesota Timberwolves, in part due to the proximity of Minneapolis to the McCafferys’ home in Iowa City.
For his part, Fran McCaffery was touched by the Clippers’ gesture:
[Paul's] interaction with Patrick has been so genuine. When he found out today that he was going to shootaround, he hasn't smiled like that in a month. I just can't thank Doc and Chris and the Clippers enough.
According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen’s Rick Brown, upon removing the tumor from Patrick’s neck back on March 21, doctors discovered that it was, in fact, malignant.
And while the news was no doubt discouraging to the McCafferys, their longstanding involvement in cancer research initiatives proves they're the last ones to give up on a good fight. From Brown:
Fran McCaffery is very active on the Coaches vs. Cancer program, as a living memorial to his parents. Fran and Margaret have hosted a Coaches vs. Cancer event the past two years in Iowa City, raising $135,000 that went to Hope Lodge and to researchers at Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center. The McCafferys have hosted similar fundraisers to fight cancer at his previous two coaching stops, North Carolina-Greensboro and Siena.
There are never any sure things in life, especially when faced with something as categorically evil as Patrick’s disease. But so long as his corner includes Chris Paul, Doc Rivers and a family so imbued with both love and a longstanding commitment to fighting their son’s scourge, Patrick McCaffery has more than a puncher’s chance.