When Stephen Curry takes the floor for Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors’ second-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, he’ll do so with a heavy heart. Brody Stephens — the young fan with whom Steph swapped autographed jerseys during a road trip to Indiana back in November, and who flew with his family to the Bay Area to serve as an honorary ball boy at a Warriors game just before the end of the regular season — died this past Saturday “due to a viral complication from a long battle with leukemia,” according to Matthew VanTryon, Justin L. Mack and Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. He was 8 years old.
After learning of Brody’s passing, Curry said Monday that he’s dedicating the rest of the Warriors’ playoff run to Brody and his family.
“I’m glad I got to meet him, spend some time with him and hopefully bring a little bit of joy to him and his family the past few months,” Curry said, according to Connor Letourneau of SFgate.com. “We’re going to try to find a way to dedicate these playoffs to Brody and his family. We know how much the Warriors meant to them.”
Steph Curry speaking about the passing of Brody, 8 yro fan that was an inspiration to the team. Steph is wearing a Brody Strong bracelet pic.twitter.com/BxmS6we8SY
— Randee Deason (@2hip4tv) May 1, 2017
Brody was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, the same ailment that afflicted the late Craig Sager, in 2010, when he was just one. He fought it off, growing up and playing basketball and getting pretty good at it, too … until December of 2015, when a new strain, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, struck to force him back into the hospital for more treatments and, eventually, surgery.
He fought for his life at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, which is where he first met the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player.
Curry, in the area with the Warriors ahead of a road game with the Indiana Pacers, came to the hospital with Golden State coach Steve Kerr. He spent more than an hour with Brody, going through Brody’s collection of sports cards — signing every Steph card he came across — and FaceTiming so famous friends like his Splash Brother teammate, Klay Thompson, and his daughter, Riley Curry, could meet Brody. They talked, joked and exchanged gifts. Steph brought Brody a jersey, clothes and a ball. Brody gave the All-NBA point guard an orange and black bracelet that reads “BrodyStrong.”
After a difficult few months in which Brody was in and out of the hospital, he got the call from Kerr to go run with Golden State, doing everything from sitting in on the coach’s pre-game press conference …
Steve Kerr brings up Brody Stephens to podium then provides an update on Matt Barnes' status pic.twitter.com/rrv7FgrUK6
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 11, 2017
… to hanging with Curry, Kevin Durant and the rest of the Warriors:
— Gabby Gonzalez (@Gabby_Gonzalez) April 11, 2017
Stephens got to watch the Warriors take on the Jazz “from a prime seat not far from the Warriors bench,” according to ESPN, after “huddling with the players pregame and tossing passes to them in the layup line.”
7-year-old Brody Stephens has leukemia, but that hasn't stopped him from playing basketball and inspiring NBA stars like Steph Curry. pic.twitter.com/yHJZqiz2KZ
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 12, 2017
The New Palestine, Indiana, second-grader made an impact not only on stars like Curry and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but also on the classmates, teachers and other members of the community whose lives he touched every day.
“He was a very special kid that inspired everyone that knew him,” Brody’s father, Jason Stephens, told the Indianapolis Star in a text message.
That includes Stephen Curry.
“Obviously, I’ve got my ‘Brody Strong’ bracelet on,” Curry said Monday, according to Letourneau. “I’ll keep wearing it. This is a kid who dealt with a lot, had a lot of strength, and we can all learn from that.”
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Report: Ex-NBA star shot shielding kids from gunfire
• A-Rod, Jeter give deeply awkward interview
• Chris Mannix: The growing legend of tiny Isaiah Thomas
• Tim Brown: Why baseball should be thanking Adam Jones
• Troubled ex-NFL star: I’m not a ‘psychopath’