Thread: Michael Flowers & Max
01-02-2008, 12:29 PM #1
Michael Flowers & Max
Quite the nice little read and thought I would share... enjoy.
For all the questions about his time off early this season and the level of his play so far, there is no doubt that for at least a moment in time that his heart and compassion are in the right place. Life changing experience for both Max and Flowers I am sure.
I wish more athletes would stop and do this type of thing more often..
UW men's basketball: For Flowers, game-winning shot pales to inspiration from cancer survivor
1/02/2008 8:08 am
[img width=450 height=337]http://i94.photobucket.com/albums/l91/wine93z/flowers.jpg[/img]
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michael Flowers was sitting on the edge of the couch telling the story to a visitor Tuesday night when he stuck out his left arm and watched hundreds of goose bumps pop up from his elbow to his wrist.
"Every time I think about it I get chills," said Flowers, whose gentle smile as he stared at his arm provided the perfect punctuation to the special story that took place in Austin, Texas, this past Saturday.
It turns out that Flowers' game-winning 3-point shot with 2.7 seconds left and his subsequent steal of the inbounds pass that sealed the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team's 67-66 upset win over ninth-ranked Texas are just a mere part of the tale.
The rest, and best part, of the story involves two new friends helping each other in ways they never thought possible until after they met.
The goose bumps relate to how Flowers has had an effect on Max Bass, a 5-year-old boy battling -- and beating -- leukemia, who traveled with his parents to Austin from their home near Washington, D.C., with hopes of meeting his hero, Flowers.
The Badgers' senior guard was honored by the request and spent some quality time with the kindergartner and his parents the night before the Badgers' stunning victory over the Longhorns, Wisconsin's first road victory over a top-10 team in 27 years. The upset, which ESPN analyst Jay Bilas deemed the "most meaningful triumph" by any men's college basketball team this season, propels Wisconsin into tonight's Big Ten Conference opener at Michigan (6 p.m., Big Ten Network) with a wealth of confidence.
Max told Flowers they shared something in common: They both wear the same jersey number, 22, for their respective basketball teams. Max gave Flowers his old jersey at the end of their meeting Friday night and the young boy's father told him he hoped the gesture would bring Flowers some luck.
Did it ever. When Flowers released the game-winner and watched it nestle softly into the net, he immediately thought of the tiny jersey given to him the previous night that had "Kidball" stitched across the front of it.
"I said to myself, 'I can't believe I hit that shot. Where's Max?' " Flowers said.
The goose bumps are also about how much Bass' cancer-beating story has moved Flowers, who never believed until Saturday that he could have such a positive effect on anybody.
"To me you can see it in his eyes. He's becoming a more confident person," said Flowers' mom, Angela Kier, who believes the game-winner and steal have little to do with the change she has seen in her youngest and sometimes enigmatic son over the past few days.
"That little kid is making him stronger," she added.
'Little ray of sunshine'
Flowers agrees wholeheartedly. After the 25th-ranked Badgers (10-2) practiced Tuesday in preparation for tonight's game against the Wolverines (4-8), Flowers said he believes that Bass has helped him more than he has helped Bass.
"I've never had the knowledge of what kind of impact I could have on someone," said Flowers, who has been reluctant to talk with reporters this season but was eager to talk about Max. "To be someone's hero and actually come through and be that little ray of sunshine for Max and his mom and his dad, is just unbelievable."
Max first noticed Flowers when he watched a Wisconsin basketball game last season on television with his father, Adam Bass, who is a UW alum and continues to be a big fan of the Badgers. Max immediately liked Flowers because he wore No. 22.
Adam told Max that Flowers was a great player because he hustled all the time and played good defense. "I told him that if you work as hard as Michael does, you'll get good at basketball and make a basket," he said.
Max had just started playing basketball and could dribble and pass but had trouble shooting because he's small; partly from genetics and partly from all the cancer medication. But he worked on his shot after watching Flowers. Not long after, Max rarely missed on the lowered rims and he smiled and said to his dad, "Look, I'm just like Michael Flowers."
Adam told that story on the Badgermaniac message board last year. Flowers' friends and mother saw it and Flowers subsequently started exchanging a few e-mails with the Basses. After several attempts to get to Madison for a game, they finally made plans to see the Badgers at Texas, where Max's mom, Jamie, is an alum.
"Max's eyes got enormous when he saw Michael," said Adam, who didn't tell Max he was going to meet Flowers until just before it happened. "His basketball hero was right in front of him. He was overwhelmed and tired from traveling all day, but he still managed to ask some questions."
Flowers couldn't have been more generous with his time. "He's a special guy," said Adam. "Unfortunately in this day and age you don't get that from a lot of athletes. There's a lot of 'me' and a lot of entitlement. Michael didn't have to spend a second of his time with us, but I got the feeling that, if we wanted to, he would have spent all night with Max, talking to him and answering his questions and hanging out with him. He couldn't have been nicer."
Adam has watched his son endure three surgeries, countless spinal taps and bone marrow draws. He's watched Max get hospitalized simply for having a fever. He's seen needles shoved into both of Max's quadriceps simultaneously, and while washing Max's hair has seen handfuls of it fall off. So it was an emotional moment when, after returning to their hotel room Friday after meeting Flowers, Max brightly announced, "This is the best day of my life."'
Little did Max know what was about to come the next day.
As the Badgers prepared for the last shot against Texas during a timeout with 11 seconds left, Adam said he leaned over to Max and his wife and told them that Flowers, who had scored just four points so far, was going to make the game-winner.
When he did, the Bass family was overwhelmed as they watched from their seats in the upper deck of the Erwin Center. "I just started jumping up and down and screaming, not as much that Wisconsin won but that it was Michael who made the shot," Adam said. "Then I looked over at my wife and she had tears in her eyes. Then I started crying. It was incredibly emotional."
After the game, the Basses met Flowers' mom and his uncle, Theodore, and they immediately started hugging each other and crying. There were more hugs and tears when Flowers came out of the locker room. Flowers promised Max he was keeping his jersey close to him forever because he knew it would bring him more luck. Flowers then hugged the entire Bass family.
Flowers is taking this hero stuff seriously. He is printing and framing Adam's posts on the Buckyville.com message board about Michael and Max. He's framing Max's jersey. He has also made a vow to Max. 'I will not take a play off because of Max. Never," said Flowers, who has rarely, if ever, taken a play off in his life. "If you're somebody's hero you can't risk starting bad habits. Taking one play off, that's a bad habit."
The prognosis for Max is good. His dad said doctors have told him that the type of leukemia he has, his age, the way he has responded to treatment, leave them to believe that his chance for living a cancer-free life is very good.
Flowers' smile showed how much he hopes he can continue to inspire.
"To see Max and talk to him and his parents, and just the look in their eyes, was very moving and very motivational," he said. "I didn't have a stellar game but what I did do when I was out there on the court was to play my heart out. That, to me, is what basketball is all about, what anything is all about; that when you do something you have to set your mind to it and give it your all, 100 percent.
"You can't control the outcome of the game, but you control how hard you go and what you can do. Seeing Max reiterated that in me," Flowers concluded. "That's bigger than the shot."
The goose bumps prove his point.
01-02-2008, 01:09 PM #2
Re: Michael Flowers & Max
It is great to think our sports heroes are invincible, but it is even better to know that they are human in this instance.
01-02-2008, 01:13 PM #3
Re: Michael Flowers & Max
Very nice read indeed.
For all you athletes out there that believe you aren't role models or can't influence or have an impact on a young individual, think again my friends. Think again.
We need more of these guys (I am sure there are more) and less of the other kinds we read about last year.
:Many many thanks to my talented friend Jos for the new Sig.
01-02-2008, 01:34 PM #4
Re: Michael Flowers & Max
God I'm getting to be a big baby in my old age :'(, Great story. I'm glad things sound good for that young fan. God Bless all in the new year.
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