In the here-today, gone-tomorrow world of professional sports, late-season acquisitions rarely have an especially significant influence on the teams that sign them. But while the contract of the Washington Wizards' latest backcourt addition has already expired, I'm betting that she — yes, she — made a pretty significant impact on her "teammates" during her short time at the Verizon Center.
Youngest player in NBA history, Amaris Jackson, signing her contract with Owner Ted Leonsis and GM Ernie Grunfeld pic.twitter.com/mRjZWxJvNa— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) April 12, 2014
The Wizards announced last Thursday that they planned to sign Amaris Jackson, a 10-year-old point guard out of Takoma Education Campus in D.C., to a one-day contract ahead of their Saturday matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic branch of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Jackson was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma — the most common type of kidney cancer in adults, but one that's "rare in children or in adolescents younger than 15 years of age," according to the National Cancer Institute — in May 2013, and has had surgery to remove two tumors, undergone two months of chemotherapy, and will have another surgery this week "to remove a small tumor in her lungs," according to Laken Litman of For the Win.
Before she goes back in for the next procedure, Jackson wanted to join John Wall and company on the court for a game. The Wizards and Make-A-Wish got together to make it happen.
As part of her one-day experience as a Wizard, Jackson took part in the pregame shoot-around, visited the locker room and led the team onto the court.
Jackson watched intently and excitedly from half court of the Wizards’ practice gym as the team walked through plays in preparation for Saturday’s game. When Wizards Coach Randy Wittman told the defense to set up in a 2-3 zone, Jackson whispered to assistant coach Sam Cassell that she knew what that scheme meant before pointing where each of the defenders should line up.
At the conclusion of the shoot-around, the players gathered around Jackson, who broke the huddle with a yell of “team.” The Takoma Elementary student then shot around with Trevor Booker and Martell Webster, who told Jackson that her left-handed shot looked better than Booker’s.
Jackson then proceeded to prove Webster right, draining a short jumper from the paint before Booker clanked the same attempt off the back of the rim.
“See, I told you, Amaris!” Webster said while laughing. “Book can’t shoot like you.”
Jackson also received with a personalized No. 10 Wizards jersey and some brand new game shoes, as well as the chance to watch the game with her family from owner Ted Leonsis’ luxury box — but only after she was the first "player" announced during the Wizards' pre-game introductions. She even got to see a big Wizards win, 104-91, providing a perfect end to an extraordinarily memorable night.
“It was fun ... exciting, meeting all the players,” Jackson said, according to Parker of the Bog. “It was awesome."
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