Before a home game in December, Dwight Howard spent on-court time with a 7-year-old fan battling pediatric brain cancer. The highlight of their quality time was when Howard lifted boy up for a dunk on the NBA hoop.

On Monday, James Fisher died from complications stemming from his cancer. News of his passing prompted the Rockets big man to post a touching tribute to Instagram.


"You are in a better place," Howard wrote. "No more pain. No more hospital visits. Just peace love and happiness. And you can dunk as many times as u want. See u in heaven James."

Howard said he will also continue wearing a wristband reading "JAMES STRONG" -- a gift from the young boy, which he said he has worn since that first meeting.

The Facebook page dedicated to the boy's cancer battle featured a photo from his meeting with Howard. Fisher was a big Rockets fan.



In a post announcing funeral plans, his family is encouraging attendees to dress casual, wearing either a Houston Texans jersey or a Houston Rockets T-shirt -- teams the little boy loved.

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown made a surprise visit to football practice at Boyd Anderson High School in South Florida where his dad coaches. In addition to providing some inspirational words, Brown ran some patterns against the defensive backs.

For the most part, Brown dazzles them by breaking out his sharp-breaking moves. But in one instance, at the 1:27 mark of the clip below, Brown doesn't create as much distance between himself and the defender, and the pass is broken up. The reaction of the players is priceless. Thanks to Alex Wohleber for providing the video.

Denver Nuggets rookie big man Jusuf Nurkic has quickly made a reputation for himself with his rugged and intense style. Nurkic showed his softer side this week when the team hosted its 11th annual clinic for Special Olympics athletes in the area.

Nurkic was among of the Nuggets getting autographs from the Special Olympians, and one particular photo has picked up steam online. Posted originally on Imgur, the photo shows a youngster intently writing on autograph on Nurkic's shirt.

The exchange of signatures between the Nuggets and Special Olympians was one of the event's more memorable moments.

"The little bit of effect that we have on them is nominal," Nuggets coach Melvin Hood said. "I think it goes the other way. It's the effect they have on us. They change our lives. Every year we do this, I get tingly because you can see our guys interacting with them. These moments we take away; they're special moments. They should be the ones signing our shirts ... I mean, these are the stars."

Here is a video from the Nuggets with more details and highlights of the function:


Considering how beloved he was by former players, peers, even his rivals, it's no surprise that Dean Smith had one last tribute to the players he coached over the years.

In the wake of his passing last month at 83, an accounting firm is now contacting former North Carolina players and delivering on one of Smith's wishes: That every North Carolina letterman to play under him receive a $200 check from a trust he had established.

The payments, along with a letter, have been delivered to about 180 former players, with a handful of letters still waiting to be delivered.

The letters accompanying the $200 checks explain the coach's wishes to make a tribute to his "important and special" former players. The letters include a direction to "enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.


ForTheWin contacted the law firm featured on the letter's letterhead, and the firm confirmed that the letters and payments are real.

Efforts like this prove what a genuine and rare person Dean Smith was in life, and that reputation will be well-preserved in his wake.

The Gainesville Tornadoes always play road games.

As a juvenile correction facility for felony offenders in Texas, Gainesville fields a basketball team that visits other schools for games a few times a year. This means never hearing cheers from its own fans.

When Gainesville made a trip to play against Vanguard College Prep in Waco, the Tornadoes were in for a surprise. Some Vanguard players had arranged for the crowd to root for Gainesville, just so those players could experience fan support.

Steve Hartman of CBS News, who specializes in finding and telling these types of inspiring stories, documents this special example of sportsmanship:

A big fan of gambling himself, Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis turned the game floor into a charity event. Yes, maybe all bets placed at the sixth annual Marcedes Lewis Foundation Casino Night were placed with fake money, but the goal remains the same.

In this case, though, the spoils of the game go to the Marcedes Lewis Foundation, which seeks to increase education about exercise and healthy living to children with limited athletic opportunities.

Lewis' 'Casino Night' has long been one of the foundation's biggest events, with donors turning out to raise money for the foundation while competing for prizes through a raffle and silent auction.

Lewis sees the night as an opportunity to learn casino games in a low-risk setting while putting the earnings toward a good cause. He spoke with ThePostGame about the event's appeal, including his own casino game preferences:

Lewis said his desire to support young kids through his foundation stems from his own experiences growing up, when that support wasn't easy to find. His foundation is the fulfillment of a promise he made years before he reached the NFL.

"I always said, if I was ever on a platform to [support inner-city kids], why not do it?" Lewis says. "Right now, this is my platform."

Middle schoolers are notorious for their tendency for bullying and chronic mistreatment of one another, but there are some positive stories as well. Three eighth-grade boys earned a positive reputation for themselves this week when they stood up for a disabled cheerleader who was being bullied by other students.

According to WTMJ in Milwaukee, Desiree Andrews is a cheerleader that doesn't always stick to the script. She has Down syndrome and loves cheering and dancing. She is often seen at middle school sport events cheering alongside other girls her age, with one exception: She's following her own script.

That made her the target of heckling by some other students at a recent basketball game. But three members of the team saw the bullying occurring and did something unexpected: They walked off the court in the middle of the game to confront the bullies and stand up for Andrews.

"The kids in the audience were picking on Dee, So we all stepped forward," says one of the boys.

According to the video, Andrews' relationship with the three boys has blossomed ever since. They walk her to class and make sure she isn't alone.

The boys also nicknamed the gymnasium "D's House" as a tribute to the girl, and administrators say they're going to make that nickname official.

Andrews told the nightly news was she thought of all the kindness: "Sweet, kind, awesome, amazing."

One of the Chicago Blackhawks' biggest fans is a little girl named Cammy. Cammy can't walk or speak, but she's a passionate hockey fan and particularly loves defenseman Duncan Keith.

As part of the NHL's #WhatsYourGoal social media initiative, the Blackhawks decided they would fulfill Cammy's dream of scoring a goal with Keith. But the NHL star did her one better: he didn't just score a goal with her, he brought her along for the ride.

In a great, heartwarming video, Keith explains that before you're ready to score a goal, you have to learn to skate.

It's hard not to share Cammy's excitement at seeing Keith for the first time, as well as her expression throughout their time together on the ice.

The Blackhawks' Instagram page also features several great photos from the afternoon:


Goal achieved! Video on BHTV. #WhatsYourGoal

A photo posted by Chicago Blackhawks (Official) (@nhlblackhawks) on

As far as social media initiatives go, this NHL campaign ranks among the best.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may have been a fun viral movement, but the message behind its awareness campaign hits much closer to home at Boston College. Pete Frates, a former member of the Eagles baseball team, is a 30-year-old battling the debilitating disease himself.

He's also an awareness advocate for ALS, and was the guy who came up with the Ice Bucket fundraising campaign. So, in an exhibition game with the Boston Red Sox, BC came together with the professional club and honored their former teammate.

Each players on both sides wore jerseys with the No. 3 in the exhibition, which was Frates' playing number. They also wore his name across the back of their jerseys:


A view of the locker rooms prior to teams suiting up. The jerseys will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be given to Frates' #3 fund, an organization that provides financial support to ALS charities:


Teams lined up for a pre-game tribute, where Frates' family met with members of the Red Sox organization on his behalf:


Frates, who continues to fight ALS as both a patient and activist, responded to both teams with gratitude via Twitter:


Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah couldn't shake the experience of meeting a crying woman at an outdoor basketball court. After approaching her to make sure everything was all right, he found out what was troubling her: It was the very same court where her brother was shot and killed.

Noah wanted to do something, but in that moment he was at a loss. The experience, however, propelled him to produce a mini-documentary targeting gun violence.

Chicago leads the nation in terms of gun violence, and many members of the Bulls have had direct experiences with the tragedy that follows. Noah managed to recruit teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson to share their personal stories on video, resulting in an emotional but affecting nine-minute short film.

In the film, Rose describes the loss he suffered due to gun violence in Englewood, a south Chicago neighborhood where he grew up. Power forward Taj Gibson, who hails from Brooklyn, describes the experience of losing a good friend who was shot in the head -- as well as his thoughts of getting revenge.

Gibson's loss occurred between his first and second seasons in the NBA, and it brought his thoughts

to a dark place.

"It was right before training camp," he says. "My whole mind frame changed. I didn't care about anything. I was just so mad all the time. I was short-fused."

The film also features the woman Noah met at the playground, whose personal experience helped. inspired the film. Noah explains on-camera that while his impulse was to help, he understood there was nothing he could physically do.

"As much as I wanted to help, sometimes the best thing to do is just listen," he says.

Noah enlisted documentary filmmaker Alex Kotlowitz to help make the film. Noah and Kotlowitz are now hoping to have the film played in classrooms in Chicago and elsewhere, educating kids on the dangers of gun violence -- even as the film tries and connect with the emotions that sometimes drive individuals to do dangerous things.

For Gibson, the prospect of reciprocating the violence suffered by his friend only went away after he sought out therapy and grief counseling. But the feelings and struggle to accept what happened still stick with him.

"To this day I just sit in my room sometimes and I just think about it," Gibson says of his friend. "I
think about it every morning, every day. Even if I'm just daydreaming, I just think about him."

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