Superstar Steph Curry Visits 7-year-old Basketball Phenom at Riley
As Brody Stephens sat there Sunday afternoon in his hospital room, about to doze off, his hero appeared. And it made him forget, even if for just a little bit, that he is fighting for his life.
He sat back in his chair, the tubes attached to his body, a fuzzy Golden State Warriors blanket covering him up.
His eyes looked tired. No. Not tired. Brody Stephens is exhausted. He’s 7 and in the second fight of his life with leukemia at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
But as he sat there Sunday afternoon in his hospital room, about to doze off, his dad Jason Stephens said something to him quietly: “Hey Bro Bro, there is somebody here to see you. You’ve got a visitor. Sorry.”
Brody slowly turned his head toward the door -- and he couldn’t believe his eyes. He peeled his fuzzy blanket from his chest and sat up a little. His heart started racing and a rare, tiny smile spread across his face.
There, peeking into his room, was Warriors superstar Steph Curry.
“What’s going on my man?” Curry asked Brody. “How you doing?”
“Good,” Brody said.
And at this moment, Brody was good. He was better than he’s been in a very long time. He was meeting his basketball hero – and able to forget for just a little bit the battle he fights every day.
Before he got sick, Brody was a basketball phenom from New Palestine, Ind. He was the kid people would watch on the court, even as a kindergartner or first grader, and say “He’s going to be a star some day.”
Brody had a dedication to the sport so intense that most people, even grown adults, couldn’t grasp it. He practiced and practiced. He tried his hardest to keep up with his three older brothers. He played on travel teams. And he never wanted to come out of a game.
So, about a year ago, when Brody walked up to his dad on the sidelines just two minutes into a game and told him he had to come out, Jason Stephens felt a rush of devastation.
“He said, ‘Dad, I’m too tired. I can’t play anymore,’” Stephens said. “That’s when I knew.”
Stephens knew Brody was about to have to fight for his life a second time.
The first time started on July Fourth weekend of 2010 when a baby Brody was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). For nine months, Brody fought. And he won. There were no complications and the chemotherapy worked.
This second time has been much tougher. After Brody walked off the basketball court last December, a bone marrow test revealed a new form of leukemia had attacked his body, acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Brody has gone into septic shock, lost half his colon and had to wear an ostomy bag for months. He’s been near death more than twice and Riley has saved his life every time, Stephens said.
Right now, Brody is trying to fight off a virus after having a bone marrow transplant. He’s sick, so sick that he is taking drugs that haven’t been approved by the FDA. He is in isolation. Visitors have to wear a yellow gown and mask to enter his room.
So, after Curry peeked in Sunday to make sure Brody knew who he was, he did just that. He put on a yellow gown and mask and he sat there with Brody for more than an hour. He sat there and laughed and joked and played. Curry proved to Brody he really was that hero he had dreamed about meeting.
“It was amazing,” Brody said.
Curry came to visit with Warriors coach Steve Kerr. The team is in town to play the Indiana Pacers Monday at 7 p.m. at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
While Curry was there in the hospital room, the two went through Brody’s massive collection of sports cards. Brody collects them and categorizes them to pass those long hours in the hospital.
And when Curry spotted his own category, all those cards of himself that Brody had saved, he took out a pen and signed every single one of them.
Then, Curry decided he wanted some of his friends to meet Brody, so he started Facetiming people, including Warriors teammate Klay Thompson. Brody also talked to Curry’s daughter, Riley, which Brody and his dad thought was a perfect name.
Curry brought Brody plenty of gifts, a jersey, T-shirts and a basketball. But the best gift on Sunday wasn’t from Curry to Brody. It was the other way around.
When Brody gave Curry the bracelet he was wearing, an orange and black bracelet that says “BrodyStrong,” Curry made a promise to him.
Watch the Pacers game Monday night. He’ll be wearing that “BrodyStrong “bracelet so that all of Indiana will know who Curry is rooting for.
Brody loved that. It made him smile. And if it wasn’t already a given, that sealed the deal on who Brody would be rooting for Monday night.
“The Warriors,” Brody said. Or to be more accurate, Steph Curry.
-- By Dana Benbow