MILWAUKEE — Fans would have had to look hard to notice, but Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley had a little good luck charm of sorts last season.
Finley wore an orange bracelet on his wrist with the words “Be Like Mike” on it.
Finley wasn’t trying to tip his cap, or helmet for that matter, to Michael Jordan. No, the bracelet was for 11-year-old Michael Christensen, a Milwaukee boy going through his second battle with leukemia.
Christensen came up with the idea for the bracelet after seeing one of his classmates wear one for another charity. The youngster decided to make his own and sell them as a fundraiser for the MACC Fund, a charity dedicated to fighting childhood cancer and supporting research to find a cure.
His bracelets raised nearly $3,000 for the MACC Fund.
Christensen met Finley last fall, while the tight end was recording radio commercials for the Blood Center of Wisconsin. Christensen gave Finley — who he says ranks “right up there” with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — the bracelet and the two made an immediate connection.
“We started clicking and vibing together,” Finley said. “Mike had been a big part of my coming off of my (knee) injury to start the season. I told him to keep pushing and everything will keep working out.”
Finley said that Christensen’s struggle was a source of inspiration for him this season, especially during some of the more difficult parts of the year.
“I think about him a lot because a blood transfusion; I mean, that’s hard. That’s difficult to go through. I couldn’t imagine it,” Finley said. “But when I am on the field having trouble catching the ball, of course, this year, I just think about Mike and what he’s going through. It’s 10 times worse than what I am dealing with at the moment.”
Their initial meeting was brief but had a lasting impact on Christensen, who wears Finley’s No. 88 jersey with pride.
“We only got to meet for about five minutes,” Christensen said. “We didn’t get to talk too much, but it was still a really good time.”
Tuesday night, Finley and Christensen got a chance to spend a little more time together, sitting courtside at the Bradley Center for the Wizards vs. Bucks NBA game.
Along with Christensen’s mother (Beth), father (John), 15-year-old brother (Richard) and Finley’s agent, the duo shared a pregame meal at the Palermo’s Courtside Club before settling into their seats across the court from the Bucks’ bench.
“It’s so awesome,” Christensen said. “I wouldn’t never believe this was happening. This is crazy.”
Finley, 24, has two children. His friendship with Christensen has made the bond between him and his son, Kaydon, all the stronger.
“That’s the one thing I think about,” Finley said. “If it was your kid, how would you really react? Nobody knows. I just pray every night that my kids and my family stay healthy.”