Denton: Magic Fan Gets to Meet His Hero

By John Denton
February 28, 2011

ORLANDO – If happiness can truly heal, Janet Woody is convinced that her 10-year-old son, J-Lon Woody, is well on the road to recovery after meeting his hero, Dwight Howard, Sunday night at the Amway Center.

Janet looked on with tears welling in her eyes as J-Lon and the Orlando Magic’s superstar center chatted, slapped high fives and laughed prior to Sunday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Woody, a native of Geneva, N.Y., was diagnosed with globlastoma, a tumor near the central nervous system in the brain last April. He was in Orlando and at the Magic game as part of the Make-A-Wish program.

And J-Lon’s trip to Orlando wouldn’t have been complete without getting to meet Howard, the player he has studied up on and idolized for years.

``We talked about basketball and funny stuff. I can’t wait to tell all my friends about meeting Dwight. He said some inspirational words to me and some things that I can keep in mind,’’ J-Lon said. ``He is a giant, but so nice. When it was time to go he gave me a handshake and a wave and that was so cool.’’

Janet Woody said there have been plenty of tough times since her son’s diagnosis, but she hopes the power of positive thinking will help cure her son, who recently lost some of the use of his legs and is in a wheelchair. Considering the way J-Lon was smiling when Howard autographed a basketball and answered the kid’s questions, she thinks that the good vibes will mean the world to her son’s recovery.

``As a kid he was always playing basketball and last year right before he got sick he just fell in love with Dwight Howard. He talked about Dwight all of the time,’’ Janet said. ``When J-Lon was diagnosed April 12 of last year and lost most of the use of his legs, he always said that Dwight was someone who motivates him. We always tell him that he’s going to be cured and Dwight is somebody who has kept him positive and given him somebody to look up to. … Sometimes he can be a shy kid, but I’ve never seen him talk as much as he did to Dwight.’’

J-Lon had plenty of questions for Howard, asking him about the size of his family, how he got to the NBA, why he wanted to be called Superman and making the decision to forgo college for the NBA? Clearly, J-Lon had done his research, and Howard was delighted to provide plenty of answers.

``It’s always so fun for me to see a kid smile and get to talk to them,’’ Howard said after scoring 20 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking two shots in Orlando’s 100-84 defeat of Charlotte. ``J-Lon was asking me questions about life and we talked about how he was doing in school. He really wanted to learn more about me because he had a big list of questions that he wanted to ask me. We spent a few of minutes together and he’s a really nice kid.’’

Janet said that the signed basketball that the family received will be put in a safe place and the dozens of pictures that she snapped of her son and Howard together will be sprinkled throughout J-Lon’s room. She said seeing her son enjoy himself as much as he did was truly a dream come true.

``I really appreciate with all my heart what Dwight and the Magic did for us,’’ Janet said. ``It’s going to take happiness for him to be cured. If I had a script, it would be written with all positive energy to cure him. This trip has been amazing and it brings tears to my eyes because we’re so happy right now.’’

John Denton writes for E-mail John at Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at