How James Harden is helping a Michigan shooting survivor heal after a tragic incident

PHILADELPHIA — When 76ers star James Harden learned that John Hao — a 20-year-old Michigan State student and big fan of the future Hall of Fame point guard — had been paralyzed from the waist down during the tragic shooting on the college campus earlier this month, Harden knew he had to do something.

“There are things like that, where you sit and think about real life and bigger things than basketball,” Harden said after Philadelphia’s 110-105 win over the Memphis Grizzlies at Wells Fargo. Center Thursday night, Philadelphia’s first game after the All-Star Break. “I heard he was a fan of mine, so I wanted to get up as soon as possible and see what I could do, whatever I could do.”

Harden said his team members heard about Hao’s situation, so a few of them went to visit Hao at Sparrow Hospital, where he remains after the shooting. Harden sent sneakers, including a pair worn by the game, donated Hao’s GoFundMe and called him on FaceTime to offer encouraging words.

“I love it when you smile,” Harden said on the call, video of which aired on “NBA Today” Thursday. “I like it when you smile, okay? I’m with you. I know it’s hard right now, but you gotta stay strong physically, you know what I mean? You just gotta think about things positives and keep pushing and fighting. I got you. I have guys for you too. I have things to come. I hope to give you encouragement and make you smile a little, you know what I mean? Let me know if you need anything else.”

The GoFundMe was started by Hao’s roommate Argent Qian to help pay for Hao’s medical bills following the shooting, which the page said left Hao paralyzed after being shot in the back.

“John is a beloved member of our Spartan community, a leader in a student organization and a sports enthusiast,” Qian wrote, adding that Harden was Hao’s favorite player.

Three students were killed and five others, including Hao, were injured by gunman Anthony McRae, 43, in the Feb. 13 shooting at the Michigan State campus. McRae later committed suicide before being captured by police.

“The more I can encourage and clear this energy that I have and give it hope, I feel like that’s what I’m here for,” Harden said. “And that’s why I have this platform. I hope he can recover and bounce back sooner rather than later, but I gave him my number, so whenever he feels he has need something, he can call me and I check on him.”

Harden had a tremendous game Thursday against the Grizzlies, finishing with 31 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists to help the 76ers come back from 17 losses. He passed 76ers legend Allen Iverson for 31st on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Asked about Iverson’s passing after the game, Harden admitted that even the idea of ​​making the NBA as a kid was nothing more than a “wacky dream”. Still, he said having the ability to help someone in Hao’s position is something that means so much more to him.

“It’s bigger than basketball,” Harden said. “This is real life, you know what I mean? It’s bigger than basketball. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can impact people’s lives. That’s what really matters to me. That’s what I enjoy, and that’s what makes me happy, obviously other than basketball, family, things like that. It’s a tragedy. didn’t expect that. There was nothing he could control. That’s the craziest part about it. I’m going to do it.”

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