Thunder Delivers Unforgettable Weekend for Wish Kids
Story by Jimmy Do | okcthunder.com
A young, rabid Thunder fan from California has defied the odds.
Jaizahn, 10, had an aneurysm resulting in a premature birth by C-section to prevent any further stress on his heart. At 16 months old, he had open-heart surgery and doctors told his father he would not be able to play sports.
Since then, Jaizahn came away in good health with no restrictions aided by yearly checkups. He's playing football and basketball back in his hometown of Temecula, California. He became a hoops fanatic at the age of three. On the court, the youngster modeled his game after his idol Russell Westbrook.
Even his no-nonsense outlook resembled the star Thunder point guard's when asked about his health.
"Nothing's wrong. I just try to be myself everyday," said Jaizahn.
Another Russell Westbrook fan, 10-year-old Jada from Arkansas was diagnosed with liver cancer. Westbrook's vicious dunks and reactions won her over.
"I think he's a good team player," said Jada. "He's good on and off the court."
Between the transplant and medications, she still maintained her 4.0 GPA in school while rooting for the Thunder on TV as a respite.
As long-time partners, the Thunder organization and the Make-A-Wish® Foundation teamed up once again to deliver an unforgettable weekend.
Both Jaizahn and Jada and their families were first treated to bowling and food.
In celebration, Nerlens Noel shimmied his 6-foot-11 frame right after all 10 pins detonated drawing cheers and laughs all around. The Thunder center hurled his first strike of the afternoon inside the bowling alley of Dust Bowl Lanes in Midtown.
Noel along with teammates Andre Roberson and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot spent the day doling out high-fives and selfies.
"Be themselves and not worry about what's going on in the outside world and any stresses in life," said Noel. "Playing and joking around and having a smile on my face, I'm trying my best to give them the best time possible. It warms my heart up especially."
On the second day, Jaizahn and Jada attended the game where they spent time with the players during pregame warmups.
"When I was a kid, seeing a basketball or a soccer player is like a hero," said Luwawu-Cabarrot. "So this weekend for them is a way to give them a smile and it's better than anything for us to do that."
After the game, their wishes came true when Westbrook came out to hoop with them on the court. In addition, the Wish Kids' favorite player gave them each a pair of exclusive, game-worn Jordan Why Not Zer0.2s signed by Westbrook himself.
Us as players having the platform we have, we want to give back and spend as much time as possible with Make-A-Wish®
Thunder center Nerlens Noel