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14 years old
As a young man, Isaac wasn’t the tallest basketball player on his team, but he had agility and balance. To watch him weave through the other players on the court filled his parents with pride.
But in January 2011, he lost that incredible balance to a brain tumor. It was the size of a softball and had lodged itself under Isaac’s skull bone, creating massive pressure on the brain and spinal cord.
Isaac’s parents turned to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to save his life.
So far, Isaac has endured seven brain surgeries, 31 radiation treatments to his brain and spine, and four rounds of chemotherapy. With the help of St. Jude physical therapists, Isaac taught himself to walk again.
How many adults could endure what Isaac has endured?
But Isaac had determination, and that more than compensated.
On January 18, 2012, Isaac returned to the basketball court. The school had arranged this moment so Isaac could take the opening shot.
When Isaac walked out onto the court, he looked shaky. It must have crossed everyone’s mind: What if he can’t do it?
Isaac had something to prove that night. He dribbled the ball. He fixed his eyes on the hoop. It was one of those moments that seem suspended in time.
The young man took his shot. The ball sailed through the air and bounced through the hoop.
That night in Oklahoma, a gymnasium of fans saw what’s possible when you do not give up. They rose to their feet and cheered and clapped and stomped in appreciation of Isaac, and this battle-hardened young man stood there and took it all in. He deserved his moment.
Isaac today is cancer free. In January, Isaac got the chance to play a game of one-on-one basketball at St. Jude with one of his heroes: Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers.
St. Jude did not give up on Isaac, and we must not give up on St. Jude.