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Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden has befriended a superfan of his after he learned that the 20-year-old was a victim in the Michigan State shooting earlier this month.
The 76ers guard has no affiliation to Michigan State–he played at Arizona State University–but when he heard that one of the victims of the Michigan State shooting was a fan of his he knew he had to do something.
“There’s things like that, where you sit back and think about just real life and things bigger than basketball,” Harden said in a postgame interview Thursday night. “I heard that he was a fan of mine, so I wanted to get up on that ASAP and just see what I could do, anything I could do.”
A GoFundMe that was set up for 20-year-old John Hao says that Hao was critically injured in the shooting at Michigan State on February 13. Hao is an international student from China, who’s parents traveled to Michigan to be with their son despite not being able to speak English.
Hao was left paralyzed from the chest down after a bullet severed his spinal cord and critically injured his lungs.
“Everything will work itself out, be strong,” Harden told Hao on a FaceTime call. “Be strong…I love when you’re smiling. I’m with you. I know it’s tough right now, but you have to stay physically strong, you know what I mean?”
“I got you. I got you,” Hao responded to Harden with tears in his eyes.
“I got some gifts for you too. I got some things coming your way to hopefully give you some encouragement and make you smile a little bit,” Harden said.
James Harden reaches out to fan
Harden sent Hao a game-worn pair of sneakers, donated to his GoFundMe, and gave him his number for future FaceTime calls.
The GoFundMe set up by Hao’s college roommate had an initial goal of $230,000 to help cover medical expenses. At the time of publication the GoFundMe has received over $375,000 towards Hao’s medical expenses.
“The more I can encourage and rub off this energy that I have and give him hope, I feel like that’s what I’m here for,” Harden said Thursday night. “And that’s what I’ve got this platform for. Hopefully he can recover and bounce back out of that sooner than later, but I gave him my number, so whenever he ever feels like he needs anything he can call me and I can check up on him.”