How James Harden is helping a Michigan shooting survivor heal

PHILADELPHIA — When the 76ers became stars James Harden saw the news that John Hao – a 20-year-old Michigan State student and avid fan of the future Hall of Fame point guard – was paralyzed from the chest down in the tragedy. take a shot on the college campus earlier this month, Harden knew he had to do something.

“There’s things like that where you sit back and think about real life and things bigger than basketball,” Harden said after Philadelphia’s 110-105 win over Grizzly Memphis at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, the Sixers’ first game back from the All-Star break. “I heard he’s a fan of mine, so I wanted to join as soon as possible and just see what I could do, anything I could do.”

Harden said his team members heard about Hao’s situation, so a few of them visited Hao at Sparrow Hospital, where he remained after the shooting. Harden sent sneakers, including one worn in the game, donated to Hao’s GoFundMe, and called him on FaceTime to send him words of encouragement.

“I like it when you laugh,” Harden said on the call, a video showing on “NBA Today” on Thursday. “I like it when you smile, okay? I’m with you. I know it’s hard right now, but you have to stay strong physically, you know what I mean? You just have to think positive things and move on. fighting and fighting I get it I have a few people for you too I have some things coming your way, hopefully giving you some encouragement and making you smile a little, you You know what I mean? Let me know if you need anything else.”

GoFundMe was started by Hao’s roommate, Argent Qian, to help pay for Hao’s medical expenses after the shooting, the site said Hao was left paralyzed after he was shot in the back.

“John is a beloved member of our Spartan community, a leader in a student organization and avid sports enthusiast,” Qian wrote, adding Harden was a bridge. Hao’s favorite player.

Three students were killed and five others – including Hao – injured in the February 13 shooting on the Michigan State campus.

“The more I can encourage and soothe the energy I have and give him hope, the more I feel like that’s why I’m here,” Harden said. “And that’s why I have this background. Hopefully he can recover and get out of that situation sooner, but I gave him my number, so whenever he feels If he sees anything he needs, he can call me and I’ll check on him.”

Harden had a great game Thursday against the Grizzlies, finishing with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to help the 76ers come back from 17 losses. He surpassed the legendary 76ers Allen Iverson 31 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the process.

When asked about passing Iverson after the game, Harden admitted even the idea of ​​joining the NBA as a child was a “far-fetched dream”. However, he says that having the ability to help someone in Hao’s position is something that means a lot more to him.

“It’s bigger than a basketball,” Harden said. “This is real life, you know what I mean? This is more important than basketball. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can make an impact on people’s lives. That’s what I do. That’s what I value, and that’s what makes me happy, obviously outside of basketball, family, things like that. It’s a tragedy. He didn’t expect it. He can’t control anything. That’s the craziest part of it. Whatever I can do my part, I’ll do it.”


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