LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In Little Rock, a young man who is fighting his battle with sickle-cell disease anima will soon get a special gift from his favorite NBA basketball player.
14-year-old Kayden Taylor has battled with sickle cell his whole life.
According to the CDC, sickle-cell anemia is found in about 1 out of every 365 African American babies. It’s an inherited red blood cell disorder that can prevent organs from getting the oxygen they need.
When Officer Tommy Norman with the North Little Rock Police Department heard about Kayden’s story, he surprised Kayden with a visit to the Little Rock Children’s Hospital.
During Norman’s visit with Kayden, he found out Damian Lillard of the Portland trailblazers was his favorite player.
Norman says he “asked him what he liked to do for fun and he said basketball. So, my next question was who’s your favorite player – Damian Lillard from the Portland Trailblazers”
The video Officer Norman posted of this surprise visit made its way to the NBA superstar.
In the video, Norman tells Kayden, “maybe we can get this to Damian Lillard to at least say hi to you.”
When Norman said this Kayden’s face lit up with a bright smile. During the visit, this was just a thought, but now it’s a reality.
The 6-time NBA All-Star, Damian Lillard reached out to Kayden on Instagram, asking for his size so he can send him an autographed jersey.
“My heart stopped for like 2 seconds,” said Kayden explaining his excitement when he got the message.
Kimberly Andrews, Kayden’s mom says it made her happy to see Kayden happy.
“For him to take that time out of his day to think about him, that meant everything,” said Andrews.
Kayden describes his battle with sickle cell by saying “everything hurts.” Leading his mom to say she’d trade places with her son in a heartbeat to take his pain away.
Andrews says Kayden had to have a blood transfusion on Friday afternoon because his blood levels dropped very low.
But for just a brief moment in his fight, Kayden found joy, thanks to Officer Norman and Damian Lillard.
“I’ve talked to him on the phone a few times and his spirits are so much higher because of what Damian Lillard did,” said Norman.
Officer Norman has over a million followers on Instagram and adds that he encourages anyone with any type of platform to use it with the mission of making someone’s day better.