Larry Nance, Jr.’s story is well-known at this point. The Lakers power forward publicly battles Crohn’s Disease, a gastrointestinal sickness. At one point, the sickness almost forced a younger Nance to put aside his dream of playing basketball.
While he is now free of the symptoms from which he suffered earlier (notably his weight loss), Nance still regularly receives medicinal injections and treatment.
Nance has been very public about his fight with Crohn’s Disease and has become an inspiration for young people living with the sickness. But LNJ is not interested in being a model to follow from afar. The young Laker is taking action to inspire individual patients suffering from it or related diseases, as well.
In a feature written by Jovan Buha of ESPN, Nance reveals that he speaks with patients during his bimonthly treatments. The power forward is his normal, jovial self during these visits:
After listening to a patient’s story, Nance lightens the mood, cracking jokes and asking patients to name their favorite NBA team.
If they mention the Lakers, he asks them to identify their favorite player; most say Kobe Bryant. Nance then brings up Bryant’s 60-point finale and gushes about Bryant’s intelligence.
If they mention another team — a couple of patients dare to say they’re Clippers fans — he jokingly asks one of the doctors waiting outside of the room to usher the patient out. Then he interrogates them, asking them how they could not root for the Lakers in Los Angeles, regardless of the franchise’s recent struggles.
One patient says he’s a Golden State Warriors fan. Nance shoots him a dirty look. The patient’s dad laughs and says, “That’s almost as bad as being a Clippers fan.”
Nance wryly quips back, “No, it’s not.”
Nance has the Purple and Gold blood flowing through his veins and he makes sure everyone knows it. While he jokes about patients’ favorite teams, he also makes sure to reassure Lakers fans at the hospital that their team will be back on top sooner rather than later:
He then adds: “We’re going to be better this season and next. I can promise you that. We’re on the way up.”
According to Buha, Nance spoke to about 60 patients of various ages and backgrounds during this particular visit. Nance aims to inspire those patients to live their lives to their full extents, especially the younger ones.
The message was received by 10-year-old David Lasky:
When Lasky was diagnosed with the disease last year, he felt as though his aspirations of playing professional basketball had ended. To cheer him up, his mom looked up athletes who have the illness, and found Nance, who played for Lasky’s favorite team, the Lakers.