Rashawn King said he is only half the player he used to be, but he is thankful for that half. He also is a better person, he said, although cancer has worn down his body.
Middle Creek High will honor the person more than the player this week when it retires Kings No. 3 football jersey. He was on the Mustangs varsity football team for 3 1/2 years and on the varsity basketball team for three years even though he missed much of his junior year while he battled leukemia.
His response to his struggles earned him the National Sportsmanship Award from the St. Louis Sports Commission. He will fly to St. Louis for the ceremony on Nov. 17 at the Edward Jones National Headquarters and he will be featured in a St. Louis-area television special.
King is one of several high school, college and professional athletes who will be honored for his sportsmanship. The full list of 2012 winners has not yet been announced, but last year the group honored 16 people.
I am overwhelmed, King said. I never thought about anything like this. I just wanted to thank people for supporting me.
King thanked the students, faculty and staff at Middle Creek last spring by using a wish granted to him by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Eastern North Carolina. He chose to provide lunch to the entire school.
Initially, King had wished to spend a day with NBA star LeBron James, but decided that was a selfish wish.
I wanted to do something to say thank you to all of those people who had supported me, King said. You figure that your family and a few friends might support you when youre down, but I had people all over the country supporting me. How do you let them know how much they have meant to you?
Marc Schreiber of the St. Louis Sports Commission said when the group learned of Kings action, it was very impressed.
His act epitomizes the type of stories and acts of sportsmanship that we want to tell, Schreiber said. Rashawn is just a tremendous young man.
King graduated in May and is attending N.C. Central University in Durham. He says he is living the good life and enjoying college.
But he still takes 24 pills per day as part of his chemotherapy and goes to the University of North Carolina once a month for treatment.
One more year, he said. One more year of chemo. Then Ill be cancer-free.
He is a member of the N.C. Central basketball team and says the off-season workouts wear him out.
He estimates that he is about 50 percent back to being the basketball player that he once was, but once the chemotherapy is behind him, he thinks much of his strength, endurance and skill will return.