MIAMI -- When Dwyane Wade visited the home of 8-year-old Michael Stolzenberg, he noticed all sorts of Miami Heat souvenirs around the boy's bedroom. Magazine covers, championship memorabilia, that sort of thing, but no jerseys.
After the Heat defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, Wade removed his jersey and gave it to the boy -- who nearly died from a bacterial infection last summer, an ailment so devastating that doctors needed to remove both of Michael's hands and feet just so he would survive.
"He lights you up, the smiles on his face. He seems so happy," Wade said."Everything that's happened to him is unfortunate. But he lights you up. He makes you feel good. He's a kid I've had a relationship with for a while. I've been to his room. He has everything already in there, and I wanted to add to it."
Michael was bitten by a bug on July 22, 2008, and went into shock two hours later. The next day, doctors warned his family that he would likely die. He wound up spending more than seven weeks in the intensive-care unit of a South Florida hospital. He was the quarterback on his youth football team, a lacrosse player, an avid bicycle rider and video-game player.
All that changed, suddenly and without warning.
Eventually, the Heat learned of the boy's situation, and reached out. Michael was shown on the jumbo video screens Monday night during the game, got a standing ovation, then got the biggest thrill of all -- the jersey.
"Hopefully we can get that signed and get it on the wall," Wade said.
Wade has often met with sick children during his time with the Heat, usually in private, often not wanting any part of the spotlight.
He didn't want any on Monday, either, even after making a gift so publicly.
"I knew where he was sitting, so when I caught his eye and saw him smile right back, it's great," Wade said. "It didn't matter at that time, the connection that we had, it didn't matter who was looking. It was just us."
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
"He Lights You Up"
Last month I shared a story of John Elway and the kindness he showed to a young fan. Today, I came across this story from the Associate Press about Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. We need more sports hero's like this.