Being a Match: How Marcus Smart Uses His Loss to Give Others a Chance in Life – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Marcus Smart is a playmaker on the field and is now looking to change the rules of the game for people battling cancer.

Best Defensive Player of 2022 is the face of Be the Match, a new awareness campaign that aims to get more people of color to sign up as bone marrow and blood stem cell donors to fight cancer and sickle cell disease.

By increasing the number of people of color on the registry, it increases the likelihood that each person fighting these diseases will find a matching donor.

He said it was a cause and mission close to his heart, after he lost his mother Camellia to cancer.

“She’s definitely my angel,” said Smart, “because no matter what she was going through, she always made sure I was happy, that I had a smile on my face, and that, you know, she loved me.”

Smart said that while his mother was struggling to survive, he didn’t want to continue, and nearly gave up basketball.

“I said and prayed and I said to God, I said ‘Listen, you can have it all, if I could just have my mom,’” he explained. “I remember it was the time she was sick, before she left us, I was really thinking about quitting basketball, And she said to me, ‘If I quit, I’ll quit.’ And it hit home, ever since–you know, I’ve decided never to say those words again in my life.”

He credits the game with helping him get through the biggest loss of his life. Now, he’s advocating a cause that honors his mother: getting more people to join the stem cell and bone marrow registry.

Stem cells and bone marrow transplants can be lifesaving, treat many different blood cancers and blood diseases, and those who donate are more likely to match some people who share your ethnic background.

At the moment, opportunities are not the same for everyone.

“Going through what I went through with my mom is a huge reason for me to get involved and be the change, registering people and bridging that gap,” Smart said.

At the moment, this gap is huge. The odds of a black patient finding a match are only 29%, while a white patient might have odds of up to 79%.

Asian American/Pacific Islander patients and Hispanic/Latino patients do not do all this better, with odds of 47% and 48%, respectively.

Judge Brooks, 19, who has sickle cell disease, desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. This condition causes red blood cells to malfunction, causing a great deal of pain for the teen.

“It’s just a recurring sharp pain, very intense,” Brooks said. “It feels like someone is stabbing you over and over again.”

Be the Match recently flew Justice to Boston to meet the man he considers a hero.

“It feels great,” he said. “We had a real conversation. Garbage sees him talking and sympathizing with the game, but he’s a really nice guy. Really, like his sweetheart.”

Rachel, the judge’s mother, is asking people, especially people of color, to join the registry and possibly save his or someone else’s life.

“Just please, understand that this feeling of discomfort can add so much quality to someone else’s life,” she told 7NEWS. “This is his last option, this is the only cure.”

And as the organization’s mission continues and Smart’s work to help record the most important gains for patients, he said he’s finding recovery, too.

When asked what he thought his mother might think of him about becoming a lawyer, he said she would be proud.

“I think she would be very proud of me now and I honestly think that she is, at the moment, looking down on me, and I don’t think it is a coincidence that I am here now, helping people to donate and get registered,” he replied.

“I think I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and I think my mother has something to do with that.”

More information about Be the Match and how to support the cause can be found here.
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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