Saturday was USC’s last practice in Los Angeles, so the Trojans welcomed a special visitor. He isn’t a blue chip prospect, but he’s very much committed to USC.
The visitor was six year old Michael Gates and his family. Michael was invited by Kyle Negrete who was introduced to the Gates family through his work at a local hospital.
“I’m pretty active at Children’s Hospital LA,” Negrete said. “I try to go two or three times a week, as much as I can. Drew Morcos, who is in athletic training downstairs, his wife works in the P.T. department at Children’s Hospital LA. Every Tuesday and Thursday, those are the days she works, I try to go up, see her, and visit the kids. Many of the kids have physical ailments with their limbs, so they go in and get the rehab. I’ve created a good relationship with her and the story of little Michael Gates was brought to my attention.”
Negrete went on to explain Michael’s significant battle.
“Here’s a little six year old who’s battling cancer. Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was ten moths old. He had emergency surgery, they got the tumor and he was cancer free... Then they saw that the tumor was back, but it was in a place that was too risky to do surgery. That’s where he’s at today. He’s in a battle for his life and he’s a huge USC fan.”
Saying Michael is a USC fan is an understatement. He’s definitely not a bandwagon fan.
“...A lot of the treatment he gets done is at the UCLA hospital. He tell every nurse ‘boo UCLA!’.”
Negrete felt that bringing Michael to practice was the least he could do for a fellow Trojan.
“I wanted to come out here with him to make his day. It’s something that he’s always dreamed about doing, so to be able to provide him with a sense of encouragement, a source of hope, in a troubling and unknowing time. It’s really the least that we can do. “
As expected, everyone really enjoy themselves.
“Our guys would ask him how he’s doing and give him a big high five, and his eyes would light up,” Negrete said. “To see him come out here and play catch, as you can see, you get attached to him really fast. He has that love and that passion for life that these little kids, that are so innocent, have. At any moment, when you can grasp that and be in the presence of that, it’s really humbling. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s really fitting for me that this is my last practice on Kennedy Field. That means a lot to me, to be able to share it with a little kid like this and be able to be this light for him. I look forward to seeing him again. I’m just getting tired from all these races he’s been putting me in all day. It was great, he has a great family, and I’m just really excited and blessed to have him here today.”
Seeing a member of the USC family is always a fun occasion.
“His parents looked at me in the eyes and said that he’ll never forget this moment for the rest of his life. He’s six years old and battling for his life. It’s so unique and we’re a part of a family atmosphere. We’re the Trojan family. He’s a fan, but he was welcomed, he got to break our team down. It’s really special. It goes to how great this university is and how great this coaching staff and athletic department is. I wish we could do this everyday for kids. It’s nice, it’s our last practice, and it’s really special to have him out here.”
It’s an appropriate season for special events to take place. Happy Holidays to the Gates family.
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