Twenty-year-old Michigan State University student John Hao is recovering at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Michigan, after being paralyzed from the chest down during the tragic mass shooting that left three dead and five others injured on the school’s campus on Feb. 13.
From here in Philadelphia, James Harden heard about Hao’s situation and that the recovering young man is a big fan of the Sixers star.
“There’s things like that, where you sit back and think about just real life and things bigger than basketball,” Harden told reporters after the Sixers’ 110-105 home win over the Memphis Grizzlies on 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.”
Members of Harden’s team visited Sparrow Hospital equipped with goodies for Hao — a game-worn pair of sneakers and the opportunity for a very special FaceTime call with his hero.
“I love when you’re smiling,” Harden said to Hao on the call, which was highlighted on “NBA Today” on Thursday. “I’m with you. I know it’s tough right now, but you have to stay physically strong, you know what I mean? You just got to think positive things and keep pushing and fighting. I got you. I got some guys for you, too. I got some things coming your way, hopefully give you some encouragement and make you smile a little bit, you know what I mean?
“Let me know if you need anything else.”
Last week, 20-year-old John Hao’s life was changed forever. He was one of the students shot at Michigan State University and was left paralyzed from the waist down. Hao is a huge fan of James Harden, and when Harden heard Hao’s story, he stepped in: pic.twitter.com/Htm2RXRdQ2— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) February 23, 2023
A GoFundMe page has been started by Hao’s roommate, Argent Qian, and explains that Hao is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot in the back, severing his spinal cord. The fundraiser, which has surpassed its fundraising goal, touches on Hao’s love for sports and for his favorite player, James Harden.
“The more I can just encourage and just rub off this energy that I have and give him the hope, I feel like that’s what I’m here for,” Harden said Thursday night. “I gave him my number so whenever he feels like he needs anything, he can call me to check up.”
Thursday night was a big one for Harden in Philadelphia’s come-from-behind win, dropping 31 points and passing Sixers legend Allen Iverson for 14th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Harden cherishes not only that on-court success, but especially the platform it gives him to help people like Hao.
“It’s bigger than basketball,” Harden said postgame. “This is real life, you know what I mean? This is bigger than basketball. I’m fortunate just to be in a position where I can make an impact on people’s lives. That’s what I really care about. That’s what I value, and that’s what makes me happy, obviously other than basketball, family, things like that.
“Anything I can do on my part, I’m going to do it.”