It’s not every day that we get to meet our hero’s but Monday just so happened to be a day of dreams, and I got to wittiness it. The Pistons kicked off their Read to Achieve program at Children’s Hospital of Michigan and I was honored to get an invite from The Pistons organization to cover the event.
As I walked into Children’s Hospital I immediately saw The Pistons reading court full of children seated on the floor anxiously awaiting their idols. I was a little early, so I took my place and just observed everything that was going on around me. As the kids waited for Chauncey, Rasheed, Tayshaun, Jason Maxiel, Amir Johnson, Flip Murray, Rodney Stuckey, Jarvis Hayes, Ronald Dupree, Cheikh Samb, and Sammy Mejia, they were talking amongst themselves about how nervous they were and that they didn’t know what to do once the players were sitting amongst them.
When the players finally arrived, you could see the smiles for miles. The Pistons sat down in the reading court with the kids and a funny thing happened. I noticed that the roles were reversed and suddenly the Pistons looked a bit nervous in front of the kids.
After a quick ceremony the players were paired off in teams to visit the children who were unable to leave their hospital rooms. I was standing right next to someone from the Piston’s organization as Rasheed walked by us and I couldn’t help overhear him talking to the gentleman standing next to him about how great Sheed is with the kids, and how he always puts a smile on their faces no matter what kind of situation they are in. I had no one to share it with, so I silently smiled to myself.
As most of the players went off to greet the kids, sign autographs and give them gifts, Rodney Stuckey and Nazr Mohammed stayed with the children downstairs and read to them. They read from a book called Hero as the children followed along. It was more of a question and answer workbook and as each page passed there was a question for the kids to answer and interact with Nazr and Rodney.
Now let me just say that Nazr had such a presence and way about him with the kids that I was pleasantly surprised. He not only made each child feel at ease, but he had them opening up to him like they had known him for years. He led the kids through each page of the book posing questions to them about who their hero’s were, who they admired and what were good qualities to have. When they were to reluctant to answer, he did it first, and then they followed. It was like he was born to do it.
A few things Nazr shared with the kids was that he thought the cell phone was one of the best and worst inventions ever, he likes to dip his French Fries in a mixture of ketchup and Miracle Whip, but if Miracle Whip is not available mayo will do, and that he considers his late father his hero.
Rondey Stuckey, on the other hand, shared just one thing with the kids that had everyone smiling. The question posed was “Who do we trust?” and with a big grin Stuckey answered, “My teammates,” and Nazr quickly replied “Good answer.” Even the children got a chuckle out of it. He even finished the reading with a resounding DEEEEETROIT BASKETBALL. He’s fitting right in.
Nazr and Rodney, along with the rest of the team, posed for pictures, signed autographs and gave big hugs to the excited children. We get so much joy out of watching the Pistons on court, but to see them off it in a way we never have, is so much better. To see the smiles they brought to these courageous kids makes you appreciate what they do even more. We may consider The Pistons our hero’s on most days, but on this day, they let those kids know that they were the true hero’s, how special they are, and they are not alone in their fight.
Very good stuff. It is very rare for fans to get a chance to hear this side of things. I am sure it was a great experience for the kids as well as for you Nat!! Thanks for giving the inside info we probably would not get anywhere else.
Thats a great story! I never realized how nice the Pistons are off the court.
Natalie did you get to meet the Pistons?
It’s always nice to get the inside scoop but it’s even better coming from you. Sure I can read about the Pistons every day of the week but its storys like this that make me smile.
Being a displaced fan is hard but I just wanted to let you know like you always make me feel like Im home.
Keep up the great work Nat and I hope The Pistons appreciate you the way we do.
Thanks for sharing that Nat. Makes me even more proud of this team.
Natalie are there any more photos or videos from this event?
Would love to see ’em..
It looks like Sammy Mejia is packing a gun in that pic. Lol!
This was very moving. The joy in sheeds face just almost brought me to tears. So much love.
ps.thanks for the add on myspace
When are you going to post a photo of you!
Being a cancer surviver twice this story really moved me.Children are so darn brave.
I believe it’s their closeness to the creator.Puts things in perspective does’nt it?
God Bless Nat!
Rosemary Concato AKA augustslady
Rosemary I am happy to hear your doing well. Cancer has played a big part in my life, so I was actually really honored to be able to be a part of the event.
The whole thing was really touching and close to my heart. To see the joy it brought to those kids was more rewarding to me that you could ever know.
Great piece! Thanks for sharing this Nat. It put things in perspective, and illustrates what’s really important! Again, Thanks!
I am glad everyone is enjoying it, and yes it does put everything into perspective.
Here are a few more pictures from the event. Due to restrictions at the hospital (because of the kids) they were very strict about pictures and video. I do know some video was taken by the Pistons as well as Channel 7 so when it becomes available I will be sure to put up a link.
This story makes me want to see Nazr back in the rotation and on the court again.
Thank you Natalie and bless you and the Pistons for the touching story.
My son is now in remission thanks to the efforts of Children’s Hospital so this really hit home.
While it wasn’t life-threatening, when I was first diagnosed with type one (juvenile) diabetes, I was treated at Detroit Children’s Hospital, oh… twenty six years ago. It’s great that the Pistons make the most of their fame.
I also found myself really touched by your descriptions of Nazr. We all tend to think of players in terms of their game and little else, but there is a personal side to each and every one. Dumars has done a great job of assembling people with real heart, and it’s nice to get a real glance at what a great guy Nazr is–a far cry from all the critiques on how he fits with the Pistons, his “bad hands” and such.
Thanks for sharing, Natalie 🙂
I have a new found love for Nazr, he sounds wonderful. Great piece Natalie, thanks for sharing.
Haha, now I want to see Nazr back in the rotation too!
WOW! Natalie, that was a great story. I truly appreciate you for that because I don’t think people understand how cool these guys really are. In a world of where athletes can be all about the money and fame, it is good to see the human behind the jersey. Great story!
As a longtime reader of need4sheed this is my first comment.
Its quite a nice story that would usually go unappreciated by the major media who, like the free press this morning just wrote “the Pistons visited over 200 Children and gave them gifts.”
It’s nice to see a side of athletes we usually don’t get to see instead of the Michael Vick type drama.
and yes I too love Nazr just a little bit more
Great story Natalie. Thanks for sharing the day with us. It was great to have you out at Children’s and I’ll see you on Thursday.
Bless you boys!
So where was Rip when all of this happened? haha Nazr knows how to eat, I dip fries with ketchup and mayo too, it’s the best! everybody should try it.
All smiles on this end, nice job.
I really enjoyed it Natalie, will you be doing anything like this again in the future?
I hope so
I love checking your blog on a daily basis to see what is new with the guys on the court, but it is so awesome to hear of the even more important things that they do off the court. Thanks for covering it Natalie, and thanks for providing such a heartwarming story.
WOW, thanks for sharing.
What a nice heart warming story, you go Nazr!
Sometimes a little love and caring goes a long way for kids like these.
Reminded me of that film where Yao Ming sat with a little Chinese girl whose parents died from aids from selling their blood and she started crying and he just hugs her and wipes her tears….
This is one part of the NBA I am grateful for because this bought attention to China’s dirty little secret.
Very heartwarming it really put a smile on my face. It’s always nice to hear a different point of view on the players that we normally don’t see. Well done.
It’s also nice to see that the Pistons finally see how special we know you are Natalie.
Wow, this is an amazing story. If I was sick (god forbid), the first people who i would like to visit me is the pistons. Even when they are on the court, I am in LOVE with them. I’ve never loved something more than the pistons. If any team wins a championship, it should be the pistons; not just for their skills and team work, but because they are such great people. God bless them.
As a cancer survivor i thank you and the pistons.
The post and everyones comments has just brought tears to my eyes. To those of you who are cancer survivors, god bless your hearts. And to Natalie, thank you for everything you do for us.
Very emotional and eyeopening great work as always.
What a great story, Natalie. And you did more than just cover it (which is what the Pistons’ org must have been hoping for) but really brought out the humanity in everyone involved. Nice job.
Again, I just want to thank everyone for the very nice comments and e-mail I received about this story.
It was an honor to be a part of and very close to my heart.
Nazr Loves Grilled Cheese!
A few years ago during the Nuggets-Spurs playoffs, we ran into Nazr at a local grilled cheese diner where he was looked for a vegetarian — or at least no pork prepared — meal. My six-year-old son walked up in his Nene jersey and for an autograph. Nazr joked with him that he needed to put a Spurs jersey on to get one, then teased and laughed with my son. He seemed like such a great guy. Thanks for sharing more about him.
that’s a great story, the Pistons are so generous in the community! I’m sure those kids will remember that day for years to come!!! Great job, Pistons!!!!