The big guy in the red or the little girl in the bed?
Great little tear jerker from Jerome Solomon on Chron.com
Makayla Henson was excited at the prospect of seeing a Houston Rocket.
Not just any Rocket. Her favorite — Chuck Hayes.
On Friday, she waited for him around the lobby on the 12th floor of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital as long as she could before tiring. Plus, it was time to get her bandages changed.
A week and a half after being burned in a frightful accident, Makayla isn’t yet back to full strength, but she wanted to be up to see someone she had seen only on TV.
Forced to return to her room, she was deflated. The tough kid has been having some tough days of late.
But her tears quickly dried up a little later when the hulking Rocket dipped his head and walked into her room along with team CEO Tad Brown.
It was a special visit.
The fresh dressing on her right arm and hand, where she suffered third-degree burns, didn’t prevent her from high-fiving Hayes after he learned how highly regard-ed he was in her eyes.
By the time she chatted with Hayes and graciously accepted Brown’s offer of tickets to see the Jonas Brothers, Henson could not have imagined a better day.
“It was really great that he stopped by to see me,” Henson said. “He didn’t know me, but I knew him. It was cool.”
Cool is what youngsters almost always say when athletes do what Hayes did Friday. Athletes do it far more often than most of us ever know, typically without any fanfare.
Team makes donation
Hayes’ stop was in conjunction with the debut of the stylish Rockets Lounge at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. Thanks to a $225,000 gift courtesy of the team’s annual Tux ’N’ Tennies Charity Gala, the lounge was built to offer the hospital’s teen patients a fun place to unwind.
With plasma TVs, computers, and Wii and Playstation game systems, the Rockets Lounge should be as popular as the Lexus Lounge — which it is modeled after — is on game nights at Toyota Center.
Henson isn’t old enough to enter the lounge. She turned 10 a week ago today — three days after she and 12-year-old sister Destiny Stigers, were injured when a paint can exploded in a trash fire.
Destiny left the hospital a few days ago. Makayla, who suffered third-degree burns on the right side of her body and second-degree burns on the left, is coming along.
She says she can’t wait to get back on the court. For now, though, she’ll have to keep watching the Rockets, from whom she picks up defensive tips.
A player herself
Like Hayes, she is a defensive-minded power forward. What Hayes brings to the Rockets, Henson delivers for the Blue Bells, or perhaps the Blue Belles, in her hometown of Onalaska.
When her father Matt asked how her team’s name was spelled, she gave one of those looks that smart 10-year-olds give to not-so-smart adults, then answered, “Blue Bells.”
(The not-so-smart columnist was smart enough not to ask again.)
Makayla’s squad played at an all-star level, losing only one game this past season.
She was an all-star off the court Friday as well, with camera operators squeezing into her small room, which was filled with birthday balloons and get-well wishes.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many cameras in my life,” she said as she snuggled under a kitten-covered blanket.
“Man, she really needed this,” Matt Henson said, fighting tears. “I can’t tell you how much this means, how much of a lift it is.”
Soon after Hayes left her room, an occupational therapist was impressed with Makayla’s work on a 5-pound hand exerciser.
You could almost see her hands getting stronger.
This little Blue Bell will be dribbling soon.
There are a bunch more pictures at Sohu.com