Julian Randle always wanted to play basketball. Now, the 11-year-old suffering with a rare disease will be joining a college team in Kansas.
It was almost like a dream. The Friday night lights were bright, cameras rolling, people cheering his name and his John Hancock on a letter of intent to play professional college ball with Newman University.
The smile on his face was permanent. He told The Wichita Eagle about how he had a vision this was going to happen and it came true as clear as day.
Julian is unable to actually play basketball because of his juvenile form of dermatomyositis. This rare auto-immune disease has no cure and is characterized by inflammation of the muscle (myositis), skin, and blood vessels. It affects three children in 1 million.
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His chemotherapy treatments are monthly and can last up to nine hours at a time. He also gets weekly chemo drug infusions. For years, doctors tried to figure out what he had until his official diagnosis in 2012.
The pain began in class when he found himself struggling to sit Indian style on the classroom floor. He would fall frequently due to deteriorating muscles. He had to start using a wheelchair and even then, he had difficulty keeping his head up with a weakened neck.
After numerous treatments at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Julian is well enough to go back to school. And now, he’s officially a Newman University Jet, one of the guys.
Team Impact is a non-profit organization that helps children with life-threatening diseases achieve their dreams with local college teams. They contacted Newman University in June to see if they could help Julian out. Coach R.J. Allen was already familiar with Julian’s parents, LaToya who was a basketball star herself, and Melvin who earned a scholarship from Cowley College. Basketball is ingrained in the Randle Family’s DNA.
Even Julian’s older brother, Jaylen, is a basketball star at East High. Julian has always craved basketball, especially after watching his brother shoot hoops like a pro. For him to able to have his own official signing day was an absolute and well deserved dream.
Though he can’t actually play in games, he attends practice, has complete access to the program, travels to the games, and shoots plenty of hoops with the team.
“He shoots better than most of these guys,” Allen said to U.S. News and World Report. “They can take a lesson or two from Julian. Here’s a young man that’s battling, but he comes to practice with a smile on his face and a great attitude.”