Mamadou Diallo came from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, to meet his favorite NBA player, James Harden.
Diallo visited the Houston Rockets point guard on Monday after spending the weekend in Houston as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Diallo, 18, who is a freshman at a community college in Brooklyn, has been fighting sickle cell anemia since he was born.
According to the Mayo Clinic, sickle cell anemia is an inherited form of anemia, in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to circulate adequate oxygen throughout the body. There is no known cure, but treatments are available to relieve pain and prevent other problems associated with the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates sickle cell affects nearly 100,000 Americans.
Diallo didn’t let the disease stop him from graduating from George Wingate High School last year or becoming a freshman at Borough of Manhattan Community College, where he’s majoring in computers.
“When it’s cold is when I get the sickest,” said Diallo, who visited Houston with his three sisters and his parents. “Right now the weather is good, not like in New York when it’s cold.”
Diallo became a Rockets fan after the team made the 2012 trade for Harden.
“I like the beard, his whole look, his swag,” Diallo said. “The Knicks are whack. [Carmelo] Anthony is good, but the team isn’t.”
During his visit, Diallo received an autographed pair of sneakers and a basketball from Harden. When the Rockets got home late Sunday night from a five-game road trip, Diallo was in his Houston hotel room.
The two officially met Monday at the Toyota Center, and he attended the Rockets’ victory over the Sacramento Kings the next night.
“Yeah, I had a good time with Mamadou. Him and his whole family — his little sister is so precious,” Harden said. “They’re a great family. I got a chance to hang out with them, and they came out to a photo shoot. It was great. He was smiling and his family was smiling, things like that. Obviously that family will remember it for the rest of their lives and I’ll remember it as well.”