"I couldn’t say anything," Nettles-Bey told FOX Sports Wisconsin. "I just started crying, tears of joy."
Nettles-Bey has stage-four Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer in the soft tissues of the body. She’s played through the treatments and chemotherapy, averaging 4.3 points per game for Verona this past season. An all-conference player for Madison West High School as a sophomore before transferring to Verona for her junior season, Nettles-Bey reportedly made a verbal commitment to UW-Milwaukee before getting sick.
"I didn’t need to meet her to understand and know how strong she was," James said. "But it’s great to be around her and see her enthusiasm even with what she’s dealing with. It’s like she doesn’t even have it. It’s not going to stop her. That’s a very unique trait."
James said he found out about Nettles-Bey a couple of months ago. But because she couldn’t travel and the Heat were busy with their schedule, Saturday night was the first time he could make a meeting happen.
"Basketball is a small part of our lives," James said. "The way that it can impact someone else’s life, that puts it all in perspective. What she’s going through every single day; the challenges she’s facing every single day with the Stage 4 cancer that she has, she’s the stronger one out of us two. She’s unbelievable, and for me to be someone that her last wish is to meet me, that’s a ‘Wow’ factor. It puts it all in perspective knowing I have that much influence and that much strength for someone to say that if I have one opportunity
LeBron James laces up his shoes after writing an inspirational message to cancer-stricken fan Ebony Nettles-Bey on them before Saturday’s game in Milwaukee.
"I’m thinking, ‘Why not go to Disney World?’ or why not do something way cooler. Why me? Why would you want to meet me as your last wish? It’s a blessing. It’s truly a blessing. It’s an unbelievable thing for her, and I’m happy I’m in a position to be able to fulfill someone’s dream. It’s really, really cool."
James signed a shoe for Nettles-Bey and wrote, "#CancerWho" and "Ebony Strong" on the side opposite his signature. She then stood next to the Miami superstar for the National Anthem before taking her courtside seat provided by the Bucks.
"It was a conversation that you have like with an everyday person . . . it was like, unexplainable," Nettles-Bey said. "He didn’t really say too much, just I couldn’t leave until I make a shot."
Nettles-Bey said the doctors have told her that she’s doing well and that her tumors are shrinking.
"Just faith and that’s it," Nettles-Bey said as to how she’s stayed strong. "Just hope that I beat it and keep fighting."
And what does she want to do when she beats cancer?