Imhotep hoops star takes on yet another challenge

012910_adams_400
Will Adams, right, who is recovering from cancer, plays basketball with the Sixers' Marreese Speights. (Laurence Kesterson / Staff Photographer)

Will Adams said he felt funny and a bit uncomfortable, as if the eyes of the city were on him.

The 19-year-old Imhotep Charter graduate was only shooting some hoops last night with Marreese Speights of the 76ers, in front of a few friends and family - and three television news cameras.

Speights read a Jan. 17 Inquirer column by Buzz Bissinger challenging any member of the Sixers to spend some time on the court with Adams. Inspired by Adams' story, Speights asked to be the one.

Adams, who is headed to Towson University on a scholarship, was more than happy to make time for Speights.

He even postponed his chemotherapy.

He was scheduled to get the treatment yesterday. He'll get it today instead. He'll vomit. The energy will drain from his body.

But last night, the 6-foot-3 guard wanted to be ready to face off with the 6-10 Speights at the Imhotep gym in East Germantown.

Doctors diagnosed Hodgkin's lymphoma last year after Adams, a foster child, led his high school to the Public League championship.

He endured chemo and radiation with an upbeat attitude that endeared him to the doctors and staff at St. Christopher's Hospital for Children.

Now he is heading to Towson, in Maryland, on a scholarship. He'll begin training for basketball next week.

Today is his last chemo session. Afterward, he said, he will officially be in remission.

Speights called Adams' story amazing.

"I feel like God is good all the time," the Sixer said.

During the on-court session, which lasted about a half-hour before they sat down for interviews, they shot from half-court and from behind the baseline.

Adams, sporting a black Towson jersey and shorts, shot once with his eyes closed. He missed.

He shot with an IV hookup taped to the inside of his right elbow. That's where the chemo is injected.

The philosophy that keeps him going is written on his arms, too.

On his right shoulder are the words "Hold My Own."

He said it means that "when you come into this world, you got to hold your own ground."

On his upper left arm, he has tattooed the masks of Comedy and Tragedy.

"Laugh now, cry later," he explained. "Life is full of bumps and ups and downs."

He said he sometimes caught himself being frustrated, then reminded himself that "I'm just happy to be living."

There was the usual ribbing that's part of a shoot-around between talented players.

Speights missed an easy shot and joked, "I'm getting tired. I got a game tomorrow."

Yeah, right, Adams replied. "You're not even breaking a sweat."

After posing together for some final photos, they shook hands and parted.

"I'll keep in contact," Speights promised.

 


Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com.