Young basketball fan with brain tumor shoots last of 63,000 basket goal during NBA All-Star Practice
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – February 19, 2011 – Los Angeles Laker starting center, Pau Gasol, teamed up with 14-year-old Justin Friedlander to help the brain tumor survivor complete an amazing personal journey. In the presence of the NBA All-Star East and West teams and thousands of NBA fans, Gasol and Friedlander shot the final three baskets to complete Justin’s Quest, an initiative in which Justin shot a basket for every person diagnosed with a primary brain tumor this year – 63,000 baskets.
In March 2009, doctors diagnosed Justin with an inoperable brain tumor called an optic nerve glioma in the chiasm when he was just 12 years old. In spite of this difficult personal news, Justin decided that he needed to take action in the fight against brain tumors and help others. With the assistance of the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), Justin established "Justin’s Quest."
"My goal was to shoot a basket with as many celebrities and athletes as possible in order to bring as much attention as I could to this cause," stated Justin. "I’m a huge basketball fan, so it was awesome to shoot my final baskets at the NBA’s premier event and to meet all these superstars. They are the best players in the world and I’ll always remember that they took time out to help."
Along the way, Justin received a tremendous amount of support from several NBA teams and NBA Cares. Ten teams* donated baskets to Justin to help him reach the final number and the league gave Justin the thrill of a lifetime by letting him shoot the final baskets with Gasol, who lifted Justin up so he could dunk the 63,000th basket.
"The NBA has been tremendously generous and caring about Justin," stated Chris Grundner, NBTS Director of Awareness. "From the moment they heard Justin’s story, they have been instrumental in advancing this program and the brain tumor cause. I also want to thank the ten NBA teams that donated baskets to Justin. Without them, this grand finale would not have been possible."
"It was an honor to shoot the last basket with Justin," stated Gasol. "Here’s a kid who is going through so much yet he’s dedicating his energy to raising brain tumor awareness. It is really remarkable to me."
In addition to NBA stars, Justin also had the honor of shooting baskets with President Barack Obama on the White House basketball court and all-time Gold Medal Olympian swimming champion, Michael Phelps, during his 18-month quest.
"I completed Justin’s Quest, but I’m not done," Justin stated. "I will continue to work with NBTS until a cure is found. They are launching a national awareness movement later this spring and I definitely want to help in any way I can."
* Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, and the Washington Wizards.