By ASHLEY SCOBY
To some, sportswriting may just seem like scribbling down notes about a football game and cranking out a story of what happened to make Team A lose to Team B. But there are a lot of times when sports provides the opportunity for much bigger stories to materialize.
I’ve been spending this summer interning at The Spencer Magnet, a small weekly newspaper in Taylorsville, Ky. Last week, Terrence Jones came to town for an autograph signing as part of his tour across the state.
As someone who has been to many of these autograph events throughout the years, I know how they usually go: Fans stand in never-ending lines to pay $25 for a poster and for the chance to get it signed by Player X. Sometimes, there’s even an opportunity to snap a quick picture with the guy. Nine times out of 10, though, it’s a get-in-and-get-out-quickly event.
Jones kind of shook that notion up last week in Taylorsville. At the signing, located in a local toy store, kids were asked to enter their names into a drawing. One lucky child would get to play NBA 2K, the popular video game, with the former UK star.
Blake Hundley, a cancer survivor, was the name called. While I did not personally get to go to the event, I got the chance to speak with Hundley’s grandmother, Debbie Long, about her grandson’s big day.
Hundley ended up losing by three points to Jones when they played 2K, but according to Long, Hundley said he would have beaten Jones if they had played for just one more minute. Afterwards, Jones stood and talked to Hundley for a while, and ended up offering him a free autograph, photo opportunities and a high-five.
For someone who was in chemotherapy for six months and had to endure a surgery to remove a brain tumor, that was the chance of a lifetime for Hundley. He is in remission now, but still has to endure a feeding tube for at least a little while longer. Hundley is just now regaining the energy that is part of any 7-year-old’s personality, and that definitely showed when Jones came to town
“When he heard his name, he just took straight off to that seat and got ready to play,” Long said of when Hundley’s name was drawn for the experience. “He was really serious about winning. His tongue was sticking out from where he was concentrating and everything.
Hundley is a huge Kentucky fan, according to his grandmother, and is even trying to grow out a unibrow to honor Anthony Davis, now that his hair is finally coming back after his bout with chemotherapy.
Hundley still has to go through scans every three months to make sure his cancer stays away, but as of now, he is on the path to recovery. I think the chance to play video games with a former UK star in Terrence Jones really helped that process along. It was amazing to be able to talk to his grandmother and to see the great thing that a former UK star did for a child who has been through so much in the past year.
Regardless of any kind of success Jones has had on the court throughout his basketball career, it’s these kind of events that will make people in the small town of Taylorsville remember him.