Utah Jazz forwards Jae Crowder and Royce O'Neale visit with children at Primary Children's Hospital on February 7, 2019.
Angie Treasure

Annual trip to Primary Children's Hospital 'put things in perspective' for the Utah Jazz

by Aaron Falk

The little girl, a 4-year-old named Amari, sat in her wheelchair a few feet away from the miniature basketball hoop and swished shot after shot after shot.

“It’s too easy!” Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum said as he rebounded for her.

The little girl’s mother watched and smiled, knowing the past month of their lives have been anything but easy.

“She’s a good shot,” Kristina Cecala said, tears welling up in her eyes. “It’s nice to have some fun in here. This is all new. It’s so hard.”

Amari has been receiving cancer treatments at Primary Children’s Hospital for the past month. On Thursday, the little girl and dozens of other patients at the hospital got a visit from the Utah Jazz and a momentary reprieve from their troubles.

“You never know what a kid is going through,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell. “For us to be able to come in and put smiles on their faces, it means the world.”

Darren Hall, an 8-year-old Herriman boy spent the morning undergoing treatment for leukemia. He had just finished when he heard the players from his favorite team were upstairs.

“We had to come up here,” Trina Hall said, as she watched her son fill up a poster with autographs. “That’s how serious he is about the Jazz.”

Kids shot baskets with Derrick Favors, held a mini press conference with Grayson Allen, and played air hockey with the Jazz Bear.

Alexander Bellflower, 7, had Jae Crowder and Ricky Rubio doubled over in laughter as the three played a game of Jenga.

“I have more fun than they do,” Rubio said. “I’m just like a little kid.”

Indeed, Thursday’s visit was a welcome break for the players, too.

“It helps put things in perspective,” Favors said. “Just to get away from basketball for a while, to get away from that other stuff, and do something bigger than that.”

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