Steph Curry stared down at the bracelet on his left wrist, turning it over as reporters gathered around him during the Golden State Warriors’ shootaround Monday morning at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
This wasn’t the same yellow bracelet he had worn two nights earlier when he scored 20 points against Milwaukee. He left that bracelet across town with 7-year-old Brody Stephens, a patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and a huge Steph Curry fan.
While spending an hour together during the team’s off day Sunday, Curry exchanged bracelets with Stephens. The one dangling around the two-time NBA MVP’s wrist now was half orange, half black with “BrodyStrong” printed on it.
“Oh yeah,” Curry said before Monday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers. “I’ll wear it (tonight).”
Celia Stephens, Brody’s mother, said the story began when WFNI-1070 AM host Dan Dakich started tweeting about her son and helped put him on Curry’s and the Warriors front office’s radar. A video tweeted of Brody dribbling a basketball in the hospital hallways was widely shared over the weekend, garnering national attention.
Through a string of mutual connections — Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s son, Nick, is dating a girl from Indiana and knew someone connected to the hospital — Curry and the team worked out a plan to come surprise Brody in the hospital on an otherwise “boring, regular” day for him, fighting a recurrence of leukemia.
“We started off the morning where he was emotional realizing that his (three) brothers were coming to visit,” Celia said. “And then he knows that his brothers leave and go back home, and he kept saying he wants to go home, too. He had no idea (Curry) was coming.”
According to Kerr, who accompanied Curry on his hospital visit, Brody was speechless for the first minute or two after Curry walked into the room, which was decked out with a Steph Curry pillow, blanket, jerseys and pictures.
Brody’s family and nurses spent the next hour watching as the boy got to know his basketball idol, showing Curry all of his NBA trading cards — and Curry signing every one of his own cards. The two also exchanged signed jerseys — both No. 30, the number Brody chose for his admiration for Curry back when he played travel basketball in kindergarten.
Curry also FaceTimed teammates and his daughter, 4-year-old Riley.
“Brody had gone through hell and back many times already in his life and for that hour and a half, his brothers, his mom, myself and I think even the nurses, we just got to forget about it for a while,” said Jason Stephens, Brody’s father. “Everybody in the room that has known Brody knows that this is his wish.”
While Brody socialized with Curry, his older brothers — Eli, 14; Ian, 12; and Aidan, 10 — also spent time talking with Kerr and joked with him about making sure “he didn’t yell at the referees” in Monday night’s game.
But most eyes remained on Brody, who both of his parents agreed wore a bigger smile and seemed more encouraged after talking and laughing for an hour with Curry around his hospital bed. Brody, who was first diagnosed with cancer at age 1, received a bone marrow transplant Sept. 2 and has been in the hospital ever since.
“He was just very comfortable around Brody and really generous and willing to take time out of an otherwise busy schedule to come out there and see somebody in not his hometown,” Celia Stephens said. “I’m sure things like this happen in these players’ hometowns, and it was really incredible, really touching.”
The story with Brody and Curry isn’t going to end there, however. The Warriors invited Brody to come out for a Warriors game in Oakland, Calif., once he gets out of the hospital.
“I had the easy part, showing up and getting to know Brody,” Curry said. “And hopefully giving him a lasting memory for a long time. We had a great time.”