47ºF

A Special Meeting Before Tipoff

DeMar DeRozan meets a fan who is battling leukemia

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – You've heard Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich say it over and over again: there's more to life than playing basketball.

On Sunday, one Spur put those words to action.

Before the Spurs faced the Bucks on Sunday, Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan met a young fan, an 8-year-old named Noah Keck. Noah recently relapsed in his battle with leukemia.

“Noah was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia just before his first birthday," said Noah's father, Chad Keck. "He's beaten the cancer two different times but it's come back a third time. He's fighting as hard as he can and we're looking forward to getting some very special treatment up in Dallas in the next few weeks.”

Noah was invited to the AT&T Center with his family yesterday, which was the Coyote's Birthday game. The family was treated to a special courtside experience and a meet-and-greet with DeRozan and the Coyote.

“He's always been really strong and a good fighter and doesn't think much about the treatments but this helps take his mind off it," added Chad. "This is great for him before he goes off for his treatments and have him in a good place mentally.”

After warming up during Spurs pregame, DeRozan made his way to Noah to hand him an autographed pair of shoes. He even signed his jersey.

“That was a great experience and he's never been to a Spurs game before. This gives him someone to look for on the court and really identify with the Spurs even more so it all makes it a better night.”

DeRozan discussed meeting the young fan following the Spurs victory over the Bucks.

“That's what it's all about," said DeRozan. "It's bigger than basketball. To be able to give somebody that extra faith, that extra hope of whatever it is they need, just to give that back always feels good.”

This was Noah's first Spurs game at the AT&T Center and you could tell that sitting courtside during pregame warmups was a lot to take in, considering he's only seen the Spurs on television.

“I remember when I was a kid if I just seen someone famous, maybe 100 yards away, you get excited," added DeRozan. "When you go up to someone and greet them and give them something to remember, it's always cool.”

Noah was also the Coyote's VIP guest for the night, along with his grandmother, the owner of Starline Costumes, who has been making the Coyote's costume since the beginning of the mascot's addition to Spurs games.

“It's all been something new and exciting,” said Noah's father. "This has all given Noah a lot of positive vibes before he starts his new treatment.”

Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 Sports for over 15 years and is an award-winning sports producer. To submit story ideas, email sports@ksat.com.