Florida forwards Patric Young and Will Yeguete have both spent time in the hospital this offseason.
Young underwent ankle surgery while Yeguete had another procedure done on his knee.
I’m sure that their time there was anything but pleasant, but it almost certainly was better than Kaedyn Ballew’s hospital visits. Ballew is a three-year old, Ocala, FL, native that has spent much of his time on earth in the hospital, fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Young and Yeguete have spent time going to Shands Hospital in Gainesville to visit the sick kids there, but the two big men happened to strike up quite a friendship with Kaedyn and his family.
“The first time Will and I went to visit him, it was one of the best hospital visits I’ve ever had,” said Young, a former Providence standout.
“The kid was going through leukemia for the second time. He just brightened up the room. He made me smile many times. I had great interaction with him. He has such a good imagination. It was a great experience. He’s an awesome kid to be around.”
That imagination was evident early. Kaedyn told Young and Yeguete how he had scared away a monster by flexing his muscles at him.
“If he comes back,” Kaedyn said. “I’ll show him my muscles again.”
The statement sent both Young and Yeguete into a hearty laughter.
“He was full of energy,” said Yeguete, a native of Bordeaux, France. “He was talking a lot. He’s a strong kid, always staying positive.”
According to Carlton, Young and Yeguete made it back to Shands to visit with Kaedyn four times during his most recent stay, including a trip in late April to help the family move their stuff out of the hospital room and back home after Kaedyn was released.
The best part of the story? Yeguete wrote Kaedyn’s name on his shoes during the NCAA tournament and gave them to his littlest fan, a picture of which made it up on the Jacksonville.com site. Kaedyn might actually be able to sit in Yeguete’s massive stomps.
Kaedyn is getting better, but he won’t be cured until he’s been cancer-free for five years, and there’s no guarantee that that will happen.
This isn’t the only case of a college hooper befriending a sick kid. Much as been made of Michigan State’s Adreian Payne’s relationship with seven-year old Lacey. As heart-warming as these stories are, there is always a chance they can end up heart-breaking. Earlier today, we wrote about the passing of nine-year old Joshua Brown, who had adopted the St. Louis basketball team as his own.
Here’s to hoping that Kaedyn’s story has a happy ending, and that he’ll live a long and prosperous life as a Florida Gator fan.
(h/t Eamonn Brennan)
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.