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A 16-year-old basketball star battling cancer will very likely be meeting her hero LeBron James next month, thanks to friends, family, and a community of supporters around the world who tweeted a message to the Miami Heat all-star.
Ebony Nettles-Bey is a junior starting point guard for Verona Area High in Wisconsin, where she attends school, and a starter for her AAU team. At the end of her sophomore year, the young talent was offered a full scholarship by the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, something rare for a player her age, along with several other offers, and it seemed as if nothing could stop her athletic prowess.
A few months later however, Ebony was diagnosed with stage four Rhabdomyosarcoma, a potentially deadly form of cancer. Nevertheless, like she handles the ball on the court, Ebony moved forward with tenacity.
"At first, I just felt really bad, but now I don't really think about it, or think about it in a bad way," the teen tells the Good News blog. "You just accept it and try to get through it."
Ebony began chemotherapy treatments, and was instructed by doctors to stay off the court. For a girl who's been dribbling circles around people since second grade, this was never going to happen.
"I did everything the doctors said, and played basketball," she comments.
Though she dropped 10 pounds and lost her hair, Ebony says she never lost her skills. She continued starting for both teams, struggling at first, but eventually gaining back her endurance. Over the course of six months, she says she's progressed a lot, both with radiation therapy and the game.
"I was scared at first, and then I realized it was something I had to do," Ebony remarks. "Before radiation, I would play 75 percent of the game. Now, I just have to take breaks."
By Ebony's side stand her teammates, who have taken on her journey and wear "Beat Cancer" warm-ups in her honor. She's also got her mom, sister and aunt behind her, and a growing army of people determined to get her a meet-up with King James. This week, Ebony's friends and schoolmates started a social media campaign to get LeBron's attention using the hashtag #EbonyMeetLeBron. While Verona is just a tiny town of only 10,000, the rally managed to trend on Twitter, with tweets coming in from around the world.
The movement appears to have been successful, as LeBron will be in Milwaukee for a game this March, and an arrangement is currently underway for the two to be together. Ebony says she's not sure what she'll say to the NBA titan, but knows the experience will mean a lot.
"I look up to him a lot because he's my favorite player, he's my idol," she comments. "In my opinion, he's the greatest player in the world right now and he gets through adversity."
Similarly, the strong-willed teen says that cancer has made her fearless, that not even death scares her anymore and that she will always keep fighting.
She remarks, "You're in a situation where you have to take everything a day at a time so you can't be scared."
More of the Good News:
This Teen Will Stop at Nothing to Cure Pancreatic Cancer
Community Comes Together to Host Wedding for Cancer Patient's Parents
Teen Cancer Survivor's Love of Basketball Proves Stronger Than Any Obstacle