A real-life warrior

Updated: 2011-12-27 08:01

(China Daily)

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of visiting hospitals or going to funerals. But going to see 11-year-old Yuanyuan recently at a Beijing hospital was a must for me.

Yuanyuan is one of the most amazing and beautiful humans I have ever met.

Five years ago, Yuanyuan was diagnosed with EBV, which is associated with hemophagocytic lymphohistocytosis, and is a form of leukemia. But, little Yuanyuan has no fear. She has a peaceful spirit. She is patient. She has a sense of humor. She knows what she likes and what she wants.

One thing Yuanyuan really likes is to watch me and the Beijing Ducks play on TV. "I love Ma Bu Li," Yuanyuan told her dad. Ma Bu Li is my last name, Marbury, in Mandarin.

Anyway, Yuanyuan's father thought it would be nice if I met his little angel. He thought I could put a smile on her face, which is why he sent me an e-mail to my Weibo address.

At first, I didn't see it as I usually get hundreds of messages a day. Then, a friend pointed it out. My friend said it had caught his eye because it was written in English and Mandarin. Here's part of what Yuanyuan's dad wrote:

"She told me that you and her grandma are the ones she most wanted to meet, so. I'm writing to inquire whether you can kindly come down to meet my little girl. She's in Hangtian hospital, which is located on Yuquan Road. Much appreciate for your kindness."

After I read that, I felt like little Yuanyuan herself was calling on me to come and see her in the spirit and the flesh. I had a lot of running around to do but I made sure to go and see Yuanyuan, especially since I wrote her dad and promised him that I would.

When he saw me he said, "I can't believe you came", I told him, "If I tell you I'm going to do something, I do it".

When I met Yuanyuan, it was weird. I guess because I instantly felt a connection with her. The first thing I did was to grab and hold her tightly. She latched onto me too. She embraced me as a little sister or a daughter would. It was so powerful, so moving. Her spirit felt amazing. I really felt like I was holding a piece of God. Really, I did.

I began praying for her and asking the Lord to protect her and guide her through the challenges that she is facing in her young life. I also asked God for many things in her presence as I shed tears of joy. That's because I felt God's presence in the room. Honestly, for a moment, I felt as if it were just Yuanyuan, God and me there.

I am a true believer that when you sincerely ask the Father of Jesus Christ for something, it is hard to hold back tears, especially when you are like me; a sensitive crybaby. I really didn't want to cry, especially in front of the cameras and the people there, but I did.

I stayed with little Yuanyuan close to an hour. I asked her where she saw me, and Yuanyuan said she watches basketball games on TV with her dad, and that she loves Ma Bu Li. She also told me that I smelt good after I picked her up.

Seeing Yuanyuan going through what she is dealing with, and knowing that I have a daughter her age, made me feel a certain way about her and all children. I love kids, and I love to see them grow up healthy. I just can't imagine the thoughts going through her father's head or the pain he is feeling. He seemed to be in a positive frame of mind. Also, I could tell, he seemed fearless in this difficult journey to help his little girl get well.

One thing that Yuanyuan told me she does well is cook. She loves to make sushi. Do you know that she made me sushi, and told me to open wide, so, she could give me a piece? I was like, oh man, I felt like time had stood still at that very moment. Little Yuanyuan did not know this, but I had never eaten sushi in my life until then.

I really enjoyed visiting this young girl who taught me what fighting and winning in life is really all about.

Love is love.

Sincerely Yours,


Stephon Marbury can be reached at sports@chinadaily.com.cn

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(China Daily 12/27/2011 page24)