13-Year-Old Leukemia Patient 'Signed' to the Knicks for a Day: 'I Prayed a Lot' for This
A young New York Knicks fan diagnosed with leukemia got the surprise of a lifetime on Monday when he was “signed” to the NBA team during a press conference.
Michael Young, 13, is currently undergoing treatments for his condition — and says watching the team has helped him get through some tough times.
“Don’t ever give up!” Michael tells PEOPLE. “I push [to get better] and I pray to God and pray every day that I’m blessed to see another day.”
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A participant of Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams Foundation week, the teen shot around with the team before their game against Oklahoma City Thunder, and hung out with point guard Derrick Rose — who will gift Michael the shoes he wore during the game.
The Garden of Dreams helps kids from the tristate area facing homelessness, extreme poverty and illness make their biggest wishes come true. For Michael, that dream was playing for the Knicks.
As an honorary team member, Michael received personalized orange and blue gear, met Coach Jeff Hornacek (“He taught me how to shoot the ball well. I squared my shoulders up to the basket where I can get a nice arc and make a shot!” he says) and led his squad onto the court as they prepared to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Can I get an extension contract?” Michael jokes. “Like a 10 day offer or something!”
But Michael’s favorite part of the day was meeting idol Rose, who led the team with 30 points against OKC.
“I saw him on the floor out there [during shoot-around] and he was telling me some of his moves he learned from watching me step back and cross over,” Rose tells PEOPLE of Michael. “I just love that.”
Michael, who was included in the starting lineup announcement on Monday, watched the game with his family from a Madison Square Garden suite.
“I prayed a lot [for this moment],” he says of getting to hang out with his favorite NBA team. “And I worked out a lot beforehand!”