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NAU basketball team takes 5-year-old boy under its wing

The Northern Arizona men’s basketball team is finding ways to win over fans of all ages and from outside of the state.

NAU News reports a 5-year-old boy from California is quickly staking his claim as the basketball team’s biggest fan.

The Lumberjacks met Damien Chiasson-Larson at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, when they were in town for a game.

Damien has been a patient at St. Jude’s since August when a CT scan revealed a large mass on his brain stem and surgery was not able to remove all of it. His older brother, Robert, plays basketball, so he had an instant connection with the NAU players when they stopped by the hospital for an autograph session

Three weeks later with Damien back home, the Chiasson-Larson family went to see NAU defeat Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California. Damien and his family got to hang out in the locker room with the NAU players after the win.

During the holiday season, Damien’s family traveled through Flagstaff and watched the team defeat San Diego Christian at the Walkup Skydome.

“We left our trip a day early because we saw that the team had a home game against San Diego Christian,” DJ Chiasson-Larson, Damien’s father, told NAU News. “That’s how much the guys mean to us. They have really touched us and taken Damien in. It shows a lot of character on the team’s part.”

Damien has become like a sixth man to the team and a member of its family.

“It’s really a blessing to be able to have the Chiasson-Larson family in our lives,” NAU player Kris Yanku told NAU News. “Here’s a little kid going through one of the toughest things that someone his age can go through, but he still comes into the locker room after our games and has the biggest smile on his face. It really just cheers me up.”

Character Counts is a registered trademark of the Josephson Institute.