Samford basketball team lifts the spirits of ill child by making - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Samford basketball team lifts the spirits of ill child by making him a team member

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Nathaniel had a front row seat to Friday practice. Source: WBRC video Nathaniel had a front row seat to Friday practice. Source: WBRC video
Nathaniel says suffers from a rare disease called Cloves Syndrome. Source: WBRC video Nathaniel says suffers from a rare disease called Cloves Syndrome. Source: WBRC video
Nathaniel in the huddle with the team. Source: WBRC video Nathaniel in the huddle with the team. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A young boy isn't letting a rare disease keep him from enjoying his favorite game.

Nathaniel Henderson, Jr. is an adorable 7 year old, everyone calls him "Biggie" and his favorite sport is basketball. His passion has caught the attention of the Samford University basketball team.

He says his favorite pro team is the Miami Heat and now his favorite college men's team is Samford Bulldogs. He got to be part of the team's practice Friday.

"I think it's exciting for him," his mother, Cynthia Henderson said,

Cynthia Henderson says her son hasn't been able to play basketball lately because of a rare disease he is battling, called Cloves Syndrome. He's one of about 100 people in the world with it. The disease causes different parts of the body to grow abnormally.

"Biggie" is wheelchair bound because he had to have his right leg amputated and the disease has affected his breathing.

His mother talks about how his condition is impacting him socially.

"Because he's not going to school now, I'm homeschooling him, so he doesn't have it where he can go interact with children, stuff like that," Henderson said.

So even though he's not dribbling the ball or making shots, this is still a big deal to "Biggie."

He was a part of every huddle and he got a team hat that he seemed to like a lot.

"It's gives him a chance to belong to something. It's exciting for me also to see him and know he's a member of something," Henderson said.

And this is not "Biggie's" first interaction with the team. Head coach Bennie Seltzer says about three weeks ago he signed a letter of intent making him an official member of team.

"Biggie that's my man, he got a lot of heart," Samford player Raijon Kelly said.

Kelly talks about how biggie has made an impact on the team.

"To be able to help someone who needs help, be accessible to people who might need someone to look up to makes me and all other guys feel special. I'm feel like I'm doing something real important," Kelly said.

"Biggie" isn't a kid of many words, but it's clear he felt like the star player.

His mother says she's working on getting "Biggie" a prosthetic leg. She says when that happens and he gets his trac removed, she's hoping he'll have a better quality of life.

Once he's walking again, she says she's going to enroll him in public school. She looks forward to him playing and interacting with other kids, and maybe playing some little league basketball.

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