After hearing the story of Emanuel Duncan, a 19-year-old student coach for Lawrence Central High School’s football team suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, LeBron James knew what he had to do. So he picked up a piece of paper and wrote a heartfelt letter to Duncan, making clear just how inspiring he found his story.
“I know that you give so many people inspiration, including me,” James wrote. “You are living out what it means to be a role model, to be a good person, to put others first and live life to the fullest, doing what makes you happy … That is a reminder to me to continue doing that whether I’m on or off the court.”
Duncan, who's had symptoms of the oft-fatal disease for six years now, had recently been asked by The Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel what items were on his bucket list. It turns out that that list was pretty short: There was only one thing left to check off.
“My bucket list is to meet LeBron,” he said at the time. “That’s the one thing I want to do … That’s my role model. He inspires me to do everything. To be a good person, to put other people first, to live your life and do what makes you happy. If I meet LeBron James, that would make my day. I wouldn’t ask for anything.”
Naturally, James reached out. And for the wheelchair-ridden Duncan, a 19-year-old who “doesn’t know how much time he has” left, those words and that goody bag from his idol, that effort on the part of James was “thrill[ing].”
“It hit home,” James told reporters Friday morning, when asked about Duncan’s trials. “Obviously, I know there's a lot of kids and there's a lot people around the world who are in similar situations … I just thought this one was unique, and it means something to me. Just me being myself.”
A feel-good story between an incredible player and an inspiring 19-year-old. Keep doing your thing, Duncan.
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