When Beth Curley reached out to Philadelphia 76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle on Instagram last month, she didn’t know much about him.
She was just looking for a way to cheer her 7-year-old son, Freddy, up.
Freddy, a huge 76ers fan, was diagnosed last month with Type-B lymphoblastic leukemia. He spent nearly a week straight in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia after his initial diagnosis when Beth started scrolling through Instagram — looking for anyway to help ease the burden of breaking the news of a cancer diagnosis to her first grade son.
So, she sent Thybulle a message.
“I just poured my guts to him like, I never saw myself writing to a sports player,” Beth said, via CBS3 Philadelphia. “But Freddy’s such a fan and, I don’t know, I just had a feeling that it would be received.”
Thybulle responded just hours later, and stopped by the hospital that next afternoon.
“He was really, really kind,” Freddy’s sister, Brynn, said, via CBS3 Philadelphia. “As soon as we walked in he didn’t just go straight to Freddy. He high fived everyone. And then Freddy was like, ‘You wanna play?’”
So they did just that.
And Freddy, stuck in his hospital bed, ran the table on the former Washington standout, beating him 27-2.
“Somehow I’m in the hospital, laying in bed, making some threes and Thybulle, over here, can’t make a shot,” Freddy said, via CBS3 Philadelphia.
Thybulle — who has averaged 3.2 points in 10 games so far with the 76ers this fall — has a bigger connection with the disease than Beth knew. Thybulle’s mother, Elizabeth, died of leukemia when he was 17, something that has driven the 22-year-old to help out whenever he can.
"I wish she was here to see it."— ESPN (@espn) June 21, 2019
Matisse Thybulle talking about how his late mother inspired him is powerful. pic.twitter.com/DPF6SB44AL
“The way she fought for everything, like even until the end when she was getting sick, she never let anything stop her from doing what she wanted to do,” Thybulle said on draft night on ESPN while holding back tears. “You saw that from when she became a doctor.
“It was just a trend throughout her whole life, so I just try to be like that as much as I can … I try to give back as much as I can. I feel like basketball has given me an amazing stage to be able to do that, and now being in the NBA I think I’ll have even more of a stage to do that now.”
And, at least in Freddy’s case, that’s exactly what he did.
“That’s what I told Matisse,” Beth said, via CBS3 Philadelphia. “This is what you did. You took this day that we were so fearful of and you turned it into this day that we never wanna forget now. And it was an amazing thing to have done for us.”
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