Young Magic Fan Has Wish Come True
By John Denton
Not long after 13-year-old Jeremiah Hunt was escorted across the playing floor at Amway Center, close to the NBA players warming up a few feet away and to his courtside seat did he have a message for his mother, Alicia Blaine.
“He just told me that this is already one of the best nights of his life,” Alicia said while smiling and trying to hold back tears.
Jeremiah, an Altamonte Springs native, was recently a guest of the Magic when they defeated Golden State for one of the team’s best home victories of the season. Jeremiah, a seventh-grader who is already 5-foot-11 and has aspirations of playing basketball, has already survived one brain tumor and last month was diagnosed with a terminal cancer in his skull.
Getting to meet his favorite basketball player, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, slapping hands with the players before the game in the high-five line, getting an autographed jersey and watching a Magic victory brightened Jeremiah’s spirits for one day at least.
“I am having a lot of fun. I’m kind of used to coming to games here, but it’s still so much fun for me,” Jeremiah said. “I’ve never had someone do something like this for me before and I love the Magic. Plus, I’ve never met a professional basketball player and my dream is to be in the NBA. I want to grow up to be 6-7 hopefully some day.”
Jeremiah’s story is one of great courage, faith and perseverance. In 2005, Jeremiah, then six years old, was diagnosed with a Grade 3 cancerous brain tumor and given six months to live. Later that month, Jeremiah stood up at his church and declared to the congregation that he thought his body would be healed by God.
Jeremiah ultimately defied the prognosis given to him by doctors, miraculously growing to be almost 6-foot tall and living seven years as a cancer-free teenager.
However in October, Jeremiah was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his skull, a secondary brain tumor that stemmed from the radiation that he received in the past for the previous cancer. Doctors believe that this cancer is terminal, but Jeremiah has vowed to continue his fight. He has remained in good spirits despite going through weekly seizures, chemotherapy treatments and being regularly in and out of the hospital.
“His spirits are actually very good. He actually does a good job of helping me keep my spirits up,” Alicia said. “I sometimes think it’s harder on me because I know what (the cancer treatments) all entail and I try to shelter him from everything that is going on. But his spirits are high. Sometimes he gets a little down going into the hospital because it’s not his favorite place to be, but other than that he’s been a very good sport about it.’’
Jeremiah used to play basketball for hours at a time, using his size inside to dominate. He said that’s why he became a fan of “Big Baby” Davis last season because of his gritty, hard-nosed style.
“I like that he’s a big guy and he’s tough enough to get rebounds,” Jeremiah said. “When I played I would do the same thing. I like to post up and take it to the hole.”
Jeremiah is home-schooled these days because he is in the hospital every two weeks because of chemotherapy treatments. When he’s around sisters Kalia (16) and Jaleah (7) and brother Isaiah (10), Jeremiah is the jokester and the most likely to tell a joke. And he rarely misses a Magic game, calling Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick his other favorite players.
Alicia said she couldn’t thank the Magic enough for making her son feel special for a night and at least temporarily take his mind off his health concerns.
“It’s hard with Jeremiah’s condition, but by the grace of God we’re going to get through this,” Alicia vowed. “It really helps a lot, getting to come to a Magic game like this. At home, when his brothers and sisters go out and play, he really has to kind of stay confined to the house. I just don’t let him out of my sights much because of everything that is going on with his condition. So when he can get out and do fun things like this it really helps. We’re so grateful to the Magic for this.”