Paris Athlete Overcomes Odds on his Way to the Top
PARIS- If not for this scar on Paris Center Slater Stone's back, the Paris High School basketball court would be empty.
"I'm glad they found it when I was little," said Stone.
It's a reminder that pushes him to reach his goals, to get better each day, and to leave a mark.
"What I really want to happen in high school is eventually to retire my jersey," said Stone. "I'm pretty sure I can get the blocks record in basketball."
But 16 years ago, the scar wasn't there, but something else was.
"They kept him in the hospital for a week with what they thought was pneumonia and the spot didn't get any better and they did a CT scan on him and found the tumor which was actually behind his lungs, next to his trachea," said Stone's mother Mary.
Slater was born with differentiating ganglionic neuroblastoma--a dangerous childhood cancer.
"Usually they don't find those tumors until babies are over a year old and they find it post-mortem, so we just happened to get lucky and find that tumor in him, from the time they found it to the time we had surgery, which was like I said within the week, it had already started out sending out feelers and actually bent one of his ribs so the tumor was growing it was, it was trying to get him," said Mary Stone.
With no father in sight, Slater's single mother dealt with years of fear.
"Finally when he was 5 his regular pediatrician said it's okay you can take a breath now, it's never coming back it's gone, he is cancer free. I know for 5 years every time he'd get sick I'd thing oh god is it coming back, is he gonna get cancer again and finally they told me quit worrying about it, he's gonna be fine," said Mary Stone.
From there, he grew up healthy and athletic.
"He's 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds and could never tell anything was wrong with him now," said Mary Stone.
But not without some complications.
As part of removing the tumor, Slater's body's cooling system doesn't work on the right side, so he could play all 32 minutes of a basketball game and not perspire once on that side. But he sweats on his left side just like any other player.
"He has the potential to be one of the best athletes we've seen through here in the five years I've been here," said Stone's coach Wade Billington.
That's not the only split for Slater, one of his calves is bigger than the the other due to childhood club foot.
"Everybody wants to see it you know," said Slater Stone.
But despite all that, he's a leading player for more than one Paris squad, and he's still just a Sophomore. For the next two years, Slater will be on the field, and on the court, after overcoming cancer and a club foot.
Slater's still trying to break records, and only breaking half a sweat.