Ebony Nettles-Bey (pictured) was a star basketball player at Madison West High School in Madison, Wis., where she earned first team all-conference honors after her sophomore year.
She was so impressive that the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offered her a full basketball scholarship. Ebony, 16, ended up moving to Verona, just ten miles southwest of downtown Madison, to play basketball for the Verrona Wildcats. But, before she could suit up, Ebony was diagnosed with stage four Rhabdomyosarcoma, an uncommon and potentially deadly form of cancer, WKOW 27 reports.
“At a couple open gyms, I was having trouble breathing,” she said. “Then, I went to an AAU tournament. I couldn’t go up and down twice. I was just dead. Then, I went in to the hospital Monday. I had a lump under my breast like on my rib. So, my mom took me to the hospital. They said I had a lot of fluid on my lungs. That’s why I couldn’t breathe very good. After that, that led to me being diagnosed with sarcoma cancer.”
The diagnosis shocked Katrina, Ebony’s mother.
“They began to tell us I think the fourth day, ‘This is the type of cancer she has. It’s a possibility of Ebony beating this and there’s a possibility of her not beating this.’ So, I couldn’t do nothing but just freeze,” she said.
Ebony broke down in tears after hearing the diagnoses. That doctors told her she’d be too weak to play the sport she fell in love with at the age of two didn’t make her feel better, either. The odds weren’t in her favor, but Ebony decided that she’d keep fighting–and keep playing. And play she did. The chemotherapy, surgeries and cancer may have taken her hair and ten pounds off her frame but that has not stopped her from making Verona’s starting five.
Here is more from WKOW 27:
“I would say she’s at about 30 percent of what she’s capable of, which tells you what she’s capable of,” he coach said.
Nettles-Bey’s courage inspired her new teammates. They began wearing new warm up shirts that read, ‘Beat Cancer’.
“It made me more comfortable when they got the shirts. Because, at first, I didn’t want to play with a bald head, but when they got the shirts, I was just like, ‘OK.”
Her first game, Nettles-Bey almost passed out, but she stuck with it.
“When I play basketball, I don’t really think about cancer.”
The girl who once wowed spectators with her play on the court is now inspiring by just taking the court. Even her mother is left speechless by her show of strength.
“Ebony is my big hero. She really is. I couldn’t ask for a better hero than Ebony.”
Ebony has found more than a sanctuary on the court. She’s found inspiration.
“It kind of relates to cancer. If you give up in a game, like if you’re getting blown out or something, then you’ll lose but if you keep like fighting back and stuff, then you still have a chance to win. I’m going to beat it. I think that if I give up, I will die, but if I keep like being strong and stuff then, I won’t.”
Watch Ebony play before she was diagnosed:
What’s more, there’s a Twitter campaign happening on Ebony’s behalf. Hundreds of people are asking Miami Heat star Lebron James to meet Ebony. The hashtag #lebronmeetebony, was trending last night and is still making rounds in the Twitterverse.
It is not clear if King James is Ebony’s favorite or if she is behind the hashtag, but it would be pretty nice if Lebron did meet this wonderful, courageous young lady. NewsOne will certainly be joining the hashtag campaign. It would be a another great addition to what has already become an inspiring story of perseverance.
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