“It’s not often that I tear up during an interview,” I told Kyle Collinsworth.
The former BYU star, who’s trying to earn a spot on the Dallas Mavericks, simply responded, “Parker is a special kid.”
He really is.
Parker Young is an 11-year-old who had the pleasure of hanging out with Collinsworth for a couple of days during the NBA Summer League. I chatted with them while interviewing Collinsworth after his final game of the summer. Parker was on Cloud Nine, smiling while shadowing the basketball player.
Parker, who’s battling bone cancer (Ewing sarcoma) and has a cute, bald head to prove it, kept smiling the whole time.
Turns out, that’s just what the brave and inspiring kid does.
One of my duties while in Las Vegas was to write a summer update on Collinsworth. How would the NCAA’s all-time leading triple-double leader fare in a pro setting? Did he have a legitimate shot at making the NBA despite not being a great shooter? How was it going for him with the Mavericks? Would his first shot at playing pro hoops come in the world’s best league or would he have to start overseas and work his way back to the U.S. or maybe start as a minor league player?
Those story angles seemed trivial when I saw Collinsworth interact with Parker. It was apparent that the 24-year-old genuinely cared about the friend he made last summer after the pre-teen was diagnosed with the disease he’s battling.
I ended up weaving in details about Collinsworth’s basketball exploits inside of a story about their heartwarming relationship. (Click here to read that article.)
As I mentioned earlier, my eyes got watery as I briefly chatted with these two outstanding young guys.
“It means the world,” Collinsworth told me about their relationship. “Every time I see this kid, he’s got a smile on his face no matter what. For me, I think, ‘Oh, I’m not having a good day,’ and I look at this guy and he’s always smiling. He’s taught me no matter what goes on in life, just keep smiling.”
Collinsworth shared a story about how he was super sick leading up to one of the Cougars’ big games last season. He didn’t know if he was going to play after having a high fever and not eating much for four days. He knew he had to play when he got a text from Parker, his biggest fan.
“I’m coming to the game. You better play.”
Collinsworth played, and played well as his friend cheered him on.
My heart still gets all warm and fuzzy thinking about this.
Two weeks after their story ran in my newspaper, I got an amazing email that filled my soul with warm-fuzzies all over again. It was from Parker’s mom, Cindy. I think it’s worth sharing. It strikes to the core of why I love writing for a living.
Parker and I were in the hospital when we saw and read the article together. We had no idea, so it was a fun surprise and couldn’t have happened at a better time.After leaving Las Vegas on such a high, Parker was not looking forward to starting another round of chemo that Monday. Parker and I were in the hospital when we were notified by some friends about the article. While we read the article and looked at the pictures, I was bawling, of course, while he was grinning from ear to ear and stated…Moooom…I’m famous, like Kyle!The article couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s exactly what Parker needed to get him through his last (hoping and praying 🙂 ) inpatient stay. Thank you for making my 11 year old son feel confident, famous, important, and special. Normally, he is a kid who shies away from such things, so for me to see him beam with excitement about the article, it was a moment I will cherish forever.”
As I thought about what weight-loss message I wanted to share this week, this seemed like the obvious choice. I’m so humbled to have played a small role in putting a smile on their faces. There are so many incredible lessons to learn from the attitude of Parker & Co. Having a cheerful, optimistic attitude can make a world of difference as you try to lose 200-plus pounds as I’m trying to do, if you’re battling cancer or if you simply hope to have a good day. This thoughtful email from his mom is especially timely in light of an inspirational thought from Helen Keller that I just posted on Facebook.
Self-pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it, we can never do anything good in the world.
As I wrote on that post, I have a bad habit of feeling sorry for myself. This often results in me doing things I shouldn’t do or not doing things I should. Wallowing in a woe-is-me state is about the worst thing you can do for yourself. It’s destructive. It halts progress. It repels God’s Spirit and your own spirit. It makes you think about the negative. It puts all of the focus on yourself.
It’s so easy to fall into that self-pity trap, which leads to nothing but misery and heartache.
Hey, you know what else is easy?
Smiling. Looking at the bright side. Making friends. Showing gratitude. Helping others in need. Recognizing that you have it better than you think you do. I’m trying to combat those gloomy moments by propelling myself into action, by leaning on God and by sticking to my program and values.
I’m thankful an 11-year-old with bone cancer and a light-up-the-room smile, a gracious mom and an impressive hero helped me remember those life lessons.
“He teaches me just to smile,” Collinsworth told me. “Smile through life.”
“Yeah,” Parker said, “I try to.”
“Yeah,” Collinsworth added. “You do all the time.”
The world would be a brighter place if we all followed his lead.
- Starting weight (March 6): 373.7 pounds
- Last week’s weight (July 29): 293.3
- This week’s weight (Aug. 5): 289.1
- This week’s loss: 4.2 pounds
- Total loss: 84.6 pounds