Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson gives prized Kobe Bryant photo to fan with rare type of cancer

  • Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson, 32, gave a special autographed photo of the late Kobe Bryant to Joseph Tagaban, a 15-year-old fan diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
  • Tagaban, who lives in Petersburg, Alaska, was filmed meeting his idol through Make-A-Wish earlier this month.
  • During ESPN’s latest “My Wish” episode, which was released on Wednesday, the two can be seen spending a day together shooting hoops, driving around in Thompson’s convertible and getting ice cream.
  • “I just know he’s going through a hard time and I know he’ll cherish that photo,” Thompson said after gifting his prized possession to Tagaban. “Just such a special photo of mine and I decided to hook him up. He’s a great young man, he deserves it.”
  • Tagaban’s life was turned upside down in December 2020 after doctors performed a biopsy on a lesion in his mouth and eventually diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer rarely seen in adolescents.
  • After Tagaban returned home in November 2021 following a chemotherapy breakthrough, he started playing basketball again in January.

Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson gave his prized possession, a photo autographed by the late Kobe Bryant, to a young fan diagnosed with a rare type of cancer.

Joseph Tagaban, a 15-year-old from Petersburg, Alaska, was filmed meeting his idol through Make-A-Wish earlier this month. During ESPN’s latest “My Wish” episode, which was released on Wednesday, the two can be seen spending a day together shooting hoops, driving around in Thompson’s convertible and getting ice cream.

 

Tagaban first became a fan of Thompson, 32, after watching the Warriors’ NBA Finals game against the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

That’s when we actually started getting inspired to play basketball, and he was the first person I actually started to watch,” Tagaban told the Anchorage Daily News. “The entire time I played basketball, he’s pretty much been my favorite player.”

During their day together, Thompson surprised Tagaban with a special photo autographed by Bryant. 

Frame it, and I want you to have it,” Thompson said. “That’s classic Kobe right there from Kobe camp, 2007. I want you to have this. That’s my idol right there, he’s the greatest.”

The Warriors star reportedly turned to the picture for inspiration, especially when he was recovering from back-to-back injuries. Tagaban shared that Thompson was his source of inspiration as he struggled with cancer.

I just know he’s going through a hard time and I know he’ll cherish that photo,” Thompson said. “Just such a special photo of mine and I decided to hook him up. He’s a great young man, he deserves it.”

Tagaban’s life was turned upside down in December 2020 after doctors performed a biopsy on a lesion in his mouth. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which is a type of cancer rarely seen in adolescents.

I told him, ‘I’d rather take over, I’d rather be sick than you, you’re too young and you have so much life left,’” the teenager’s mother, Jessielea, recalled. “He said, ‘Mom, I’m younger, I can get through this and if God put me through this, He can help me get through this.’”

Jessielea had to quit her job to stay by her son’s side as he underwent chemotherapy at Seattle Children’s Hospital, while her husband, Eddie, splits his time between their home and Seattle.

Even though Tagaban went into remission last year in January after his first cycle of chemotherapy, his doctors continued his treatment for three more rounds until he started experiencing complications in October. The teenager eventually had a breakthrough, and his doctors felt confident enough to stop his treatment.

After spending 108 days in the hospital, Tagaban returned home in November and started playing basketball again earlier this year.

Tagaban led his team to victory with a buzzer-beater shot during his first game since his treatment ended, which was captured on camera and shown to Thompson during their meeting.

Featured Image via ESPN

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