SALT LAKE CITY -- Sitting in the crowd at a Utah Jazz game, the biggest fan you will find may just be the smallest.
“He has his little roster sheet, and he’s going through, pointing out the players, checking on the numbers,” Megan Gibson said.
Every home game this year, Gibson and her 6-year-old son, JP, were in the stands. His favorite player is Rudy Gobert, and he likes the Jazz because “they’re good” and “they’re tall." And, one day, he wants to play for them.
“When he wants to be a Jazz player it’s like, I want you to be a Jazz player,” Gibson said. “I honestly hope that’s what we can do.”
But a year ago, she and her husband were just hoping JP would be alive.
“They call it the good cancer,” Gibson said, “But I don’t think there is such a thing.”
At just 2.5 years old, JP was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Since then, his life has been filled with chemotherapy, pills and experts.
“He’s a very strong little man and he just dealt with it,” said Joshua Gibson. “He knew he was sick, but for him that was life, just being sick.”
But last fall, JP’s life changed when the Gibson family met the Jazz family.
“It was a year ago this time,” said Richard Smith, who runs basketball operations for the team.
Staff at the Jazz learned of a young cancer patient whose dream was to become a basketball player for the team one day. They were put in contact with the Gibson family, who agreed to bring JP to a game. The Gibsons thought they were just going to watch the game and get a couple photos with players, but the night turned into much more.
“It started out being this thing we were going to do with them, and it ended up being this huge thing,” explained Smith. “Everybody jumped in, everybody had a different idea.”
The Jazz signed JP to their team for one day. Dressed in full uniform, he took the court with the players and was even given an extra boost to make a slam-dunk.
But, one year later, their visit to a scrimmage has brought new surprises. JP’s last chemotherapy treatment was in May, and he is currently in remission.
“Now, he’s off of treatment and it’s kind of like, woah, you’ve got a lot of energy buddy,” said Joshua Gibson.
While JP still visits the hospital for a check-up every few weeks, the Gibsons said they’re focusing on the positive.
“You don’t know what the future holds, so you just make the best of what you have,” said Megan Gibson. “And that’s kind of what we do.”