Brenten Cox, 9 years old, is like most young boys of his age in that he loves sports—you know, he looooves sports, the way kids say it. His two favorites are baseball and football, but basketball too, and this too is all fairly typical of nine-year-old boys.
Brenten Cox is like most boys his age, except in one fundamental way. He's ill, in a way that most of us don't have to worry about.
Oh yes, it is one of those features, the kind that all of us know about but which still doesn't make it any less powerful and emotional.
I received this tip from our old friend Angie Gallaher, last seen patrolling the Red Wolves sideline as the team's first female head coach (if only for a day for the team's Spring game).
So Brenten. Nine years old. Like most boys. Loves sports, baseball, etc. etc. Oh yes, lives in Arkansas. Brenten lives in Arkansas and Gallaher tells me that, in June Brenten suffered an injury while playing tee-ball in Imboden, AR. The young man was rushed to the hospital, because he had been knocked unconscious... and!
Well first, let me just pull in a photo of Brenten and the Red Wolves here.
At the hospital, yes, Brenten's family received the worst diagnosis possible: Brenten had, or has rather because he remains alive, a brain tumor. And because life isn't fair and really sucks sometimes, Brenten's brain tumor is inoperable and he is undergoing radiation treatments.
Life sucks, yes, but it also forces you to cherish every moment; when you can't add more days to a life, you add more life to each day. (Not a saying that I created, I read it in a book once.)
You add more life to each day and you take the steps necessary to reach out to head coach Blake Anderson, asking him if there would be a way to help and maybe bring a huge Red Wolves fan to the facility for a tour and to meet his favorite players. In turn, coach Anderson texts you a video for the young man, asking him to come visit and hang out with him and the team.
And so Brenten did, with his family. They traveled to Jonesboro and met their Red Wolves, and the team even let the 9-year-old athlete run for a touchdown on the field, hoisted him on their shoulders, posed for pictures (which are those included in this post) with him and his parents and generally just did any- and everything it could to put a smile on Brenten's face. Because a smile is undefeated, even against cancer.
Football is fun, yes, but there are bigger and greater things than the sport. Kudos to coach Anderson and receiver Tres Houston, who I'm told has become a "Big Brother" to Brenten and who has reached out to support him as he fights to survive, and the rest of the A-State program for taking a seemingly minor little step to make a big, big difference.
But above all, kudos to the young Brenten Cox and his family for managing to fight on despite having been dealt a really, really bad (read: lousy) hand.
Here's a report that a local CBS affiliate, THV 11, aired about Brenten Cox.