Samford basketball welcomes 7-year-old boy battling rare disease to team

Nathaniel "Biggie" Henderson. (Photo courtesy of Samford Athletics)

What do college basketball players and a 7-year old with disabilities have in common? They share the love of the game. They fight to win every day. And now, they serve on the same team. {}

Thanks to an organization called Team Impact, Nathaniel "Biggie" Henderson has become the 17th member of the Samford University Men's Basketball team. {}"Biggie" has been even given a number 5 jersey.{}

Samford Head Men's Basketball Coach Coach Bernie Saltzer said, "I thought it was something that, first of all, would let our guys know how fortunate they are, and how blessed they are. It's something we wanted to do and i'm really glad we got into it." {}

"Biggie" is battling "Cloves Syndrome," a rare disease.{}

Coach Saltzer is hoping the basketball players will be inspired by "Biggie." {}But he's also hoping the reverse is true--that "Biggie" is inspired to walk again, to dribble a basketball, and to shoot baskets.

Now that "Biggie" is on the team, he'll be able to come to practice, go to games, go to pre-game meals, come out on the floor with the team, and sit on the bench. That means he'll have a front-row seat to all the games."

{}Henderson, nicknamed "Biggie," is a Birmingham native who is battling CLOVES Syndrome, which is a genetic overgrowth with fewer than 100 documented cases in the world.

Henderson has had three surgeries to remove masses on his chest, arm, and the latest, on May 29, to amputate the bottom half of his right leg which had grown two to three feet longer than his left. He'll soon be fitted for a prosthetic.

Samford's Bulldogs hope that with "Biggie" on their team, together they can inspire each other to fight for victories.