The Utah Jazz, a professional basketball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for its young talent but on October 6, it signed its youngest player yet. JP Gibson, age 5, joined the team on a one-day contract. JP is currently in remission for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The opportunity for JP to sign with the Jazz was part of the Anything Can Be project, which uses photography to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. With help from Millie’s Princess Foundation, JP got the chance to live out his dream of being a professional basketball player for a day.
After warming up with the team on the court, JP was subbed in for the last play of the evening, where he dribbled a ball almost as large as his torso down the court and then scored a slam-dunk with the assistance of Center, Rudy Gobert. JP was an instant fan favorite and since Monday, the Gibsons have been thrust into a media whirlwind. JP’s story has been featured in news outlets across the country, including People, Ellen, and the Huffington Post. JP’s mom, Megan, said “We set out to make a few people aware of childhood cancer and that it’s not rare. What we want is awareness for pediatric cancer.”
JP was diagnosed with ALL in February of 2012. He is currently on maintenance therapy, which he will complete in May 2015. The Gibson family has been actively involved with CureSearch over the past few years. JP’s mother, Megan, first became involved with CureSearch as the team captain for “All for JP, none for ALL” at the Salt Lake City Walk. Later, she became the Committee Chair of the Walk and her husband, Josh, joined her as Registration Chair. The Gibsons have campaigned to end childhood cancer in other ways. This past June, the family traveled to Washington DC to take action on Childhood Cancer Action Day. Megan also visited the Huntsman Cancer Institute with CureSearchthis summer.
The Gibsons weren’t the only ones who enjoyed seeing JP on the court. The night also provided the Jazz the opportunity to give back. “The Utah Jazz were truly honored to help JP realize his dream of becoming a basketball player,” said Utah Jazz President Randy Rigby. “Watching him sign his ceremonial contract in crayon and join his teammates on the court for the scrimmage made the evening very special for both the Jazz organization and our great fans. Between his winning performance during the Rookie Dance Off and his heartwarming dunk with an assist from Jazz player Rudy Gobert, JP really was the star of the night.”