When Bradley University announced Friday afternoon that its basketball team had signed brothers Johnah and Jarrett Sahrs, the press release initially didn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary.
Only after the revelation that both brothers are still in elementary school did it become clear something was amiss.
Johnah, 5, has undergone treatment for stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma for the past 18 months, and Jarrett, 9, has been by his brother's side to encourage him throughout the arduous recovery process. Bradley sought to lift the spirits of both brothers Friday night by holding a ceremony for Johnah and Jarrett at Renaissance Coliseum in which both toured the Braves' basketball facility and signed mock letters of intent the same way top college-bound recruits do.
Both brothers now have bios on Bradley's official athletics site and their own jerseys, No. 1 for Johnah and No. 32 for Jarrett. Head coach Geno Ford told Johnah and Jarrett that the letters of intent they signed require only that they be good teammates, follow their parents' rules at home and cheer for Bradley at every Braves basketball game.
So far Johnah and Jarrett appear to enjoy being the youngest Bradley basketball players in history. From a Saturday morning post on the Facebook page Johnah's parents set up to update friends and family on his recovery: "Johnah woke up and asked "Can I go to Bradley today?" Sorry, buddy. Not today. I think someone loves being a Bradley Brave!!!"
The Sahrs and Bradley got connected through the non-profit organization Team Impact, which gets works to improve the quality of life for kids with life-threatening illnesses by getting them together with their favorite sports teams. Johnah and Jarrett already had met many of the Bradley players and coaches long before Friday's ceremony.
Credit the players, coaches and administrators at Bradley for getting creative in their efforts to help a sick kid and his family through a difficult time in their lives.
We always bemoan how coaches are pursuing top basketball prospects at a younger and younger age these days. This is one instance, however, where nobody should complain.