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The Memphis Grizzlies, long-time partner of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, made 2011 the year to "believe" during the NBA playoffs. And the team included St. Jude in its exciting playoff run.
"Believe Memphis," was the slogan around Memphis, Tennessee, as the Grizzlies won its first playoff game and series. The team became only the second No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed when they defeated the San Antonio Spurs.
Seven-year-old St. Jude patient Ellen got the Memphis crowd fired up for Game 3 of the series against the Spurs by singing the national anthem. And Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins could always been seen sporting his St. Jude pin as he paced up and down the coach's box during all of the playoff games.
"A lot has been said over the past month about how much pride the Grizzlies playoff run instilled in the city of Memphis. I'm humbled that our run has helped to provide a source of inspiration for the city, but the lifesaving work of the staff and doctors at St. Jude, and the courage of the patients and their families truly help us believe," said Grizzlies Head Coach Lionel Hollins. "Each and every time that I put the St. Jude pin on my suit it provides a constant reminder of the bravery that those patients and their families demonstrate on a daily basis."
St. Jude staff, families and patients—especially those staying at the Memphis Grizzlies House, the short-term stay facility on the St. Jude campus sponsored by the team—were cheering the Grizzlies on to victory with each and every game. And while the team may not be playing for an NBA title, their continued commitment to St. Jude means more to the families of St. Jude than the players can know.
"The playoffs generated so much positive energy in Memphis, and it was thrilling to be a part of that excitement," said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising organization of St. Jude. "We are so grateful to the Grizzlies organization for including St. Jude in this year's historic playoff run and for the team's dedication to our mission."
Since moving to Memphis in 2001, the Grizzlies have been an integral part of St. Jude. One of the team's first contributions was to pledge $5 million toward the construction of the Memphis Grizzlies House.
The facility opened in 2004 and provides housing for patients and their families who are undergoing short-term treatment at the hospital. The Memphis Grizzlies House can accommodate up to 100 families at a time, with 64 hotel-style rooms and 36 suites.
Grizzlies players routinely stop by the Memphis Grizzlies House to visit with patients and families. The team also supports St. Jude by sponsoring events such as The Grizz Gala and the Tip-Off Luncheon, participating—along with Hoops for St. Jude ambassador and star forward Rudy Gay—in the Hoops for St.Jude program, and by donating tickets for every home game (including the playoffs) to St. Jude patients and families.