CHICAGO (CBS) — Make room Sister Jean, we have a new contender for the title of the Loyola Ramblers most endearing fan, who’s also the team’s youngest honorary member.
All eyes are on the Loyola Ramblers, but the eyes of the players and coaches are on Marcellus Pounds.
A cardboard cutout of 13-year-old Marcellus was taken to practices, even taken to the court by the Ramblers themselves to celebrate Sunday’s stunning upset of the No. 1 seeded Fighting Illini, bringing out a side of the 7th grader his mom hasn’t seen in years.
“A blessing, a true blessing. You know, he’s been through so much,” Tameka Pounds said.
It started with a cramp that wouldn’t go away.
“They thought it was just a regular fractured pelvis,” she said.
But the mysterious spot on the X-rays never went away.
“That’s when they found out it was a tumor, and that’s what broke his pelvis.” Tameka said.
The tumor was osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer that took part of then-5th grader Marcellus’ hip.
“Before this, I was going to play basketball or football, but, yeah,” Marcellus said.
Even without being able to use his leg like he used to, Marcellus never stopped dancing.
He was matched up with the Ramblers through Team Impact, a non-profit that helps young people sidelined by sickness build confidence and develop skills through relationships with college sports teams.
Because of COVID, Marcellus hasn’t been able to attend games or practices in-person, so has kept in contact with the Ramblers through Zoom meetings and group chats. They even took a cardboard cutout of Marcellus to every game, including the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis.
It was Marcellus’ young warrior kind of energy that made Team Impact decide to take his dancing to the court this weekend, telling him in a surprise Zoom meeting with the players.
“Why wouldn’t we just send Marcellus to the game live in Indy this weekend? So, if it’s okay with you, want to go on Saturday?” said Dan Kraft, co-founder of Team Impact
“Yes, yes!” a stunned Marcellus said.
Needless to say, it was a slam dunk
“I was like, did that just happen?” Marcellus said.
For Tameka, it’s an emotional new beginning, and for the Loyola Ramblers, Marcellus might just be the good luck charm they need to go all the way.
Of course, we had to ask him about his prediction: he says Ramblers are going all the way. So there you have it, you heard it from Marcellus first.