9-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Joins UT Dallas Baseball Team
Hamilton Grant, a third-grader at Phillips Elementary School in Frisco, signed a letter to join the UT Dallas baseball team at a news conference last month. Hamilton, 9, is receiving treatment for the side effects of chemotherapy at Children's Medical Center Dallas. (Photo by Chris Lin/Mercury staff photographer)
At a recent news conference on the UT Dallas campus, the Comet baseball team announced the signing of 9-year-old Hamilton Grant. The newest and youngest-ever member of the program has battled leukemia for years.
Hamilton, a third-grader at Phillips Elementary School in Frisco, was diagnosed when he was 3. The cancer has been in remission for two years. He and his parents, Frank and Meika Grant, recently relocated from Charlotte, North Carolina, so he can receive treatment for the side effects of chemotherapy at Children's Medical Center Dallas.
Chemotherapy affected Hamilton’s fine motor skills, impeded his growth and limited his ability to play sports. That’s where Team IMPACT and the Comets come into play.
Team IMPACT is a nonprofit that matches children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto local athletic teams and become official members. They join the teams at practices, games and other events.
At the November news conference, Hamilton said that he is happy about joining the Comets.
“I’m really excited. … I really like [the school] so much. I wish I could go here for regular school,” he said.
Hamilton’s mother, Meika Grant, mentioned that not playing sports has been difficult for her son. She’s thankful Hamilton will learn what it takes to be a part of a team from his fellow Comets.
“I want him to be able to be a team player. I understand the philosophy behind teams — the spirit, the camaraderie. And I really just want for him to experience that,” Grant said. “I hope it gives him the opportunity to see what being on a team will feel like, what brotherhood will feel like.”
Head coach Shane Shewmake said that his student-athletes will benefit from Hamilton’s presence.
“Our guys go through practice and games and sometimes they don’t have a whole lot of adversity,” Shewmake said. “Obviously, he has been through a lot of adversity in a short amount time. I think he has a lot to teach our guys about just getting through life with a positive attitude, and working hard. We are excited to have him”
The baseball team will start its season with three games Feb. 12-14 in Grand Prairie. The Comets’ first homestand will be against conference foe Hardin-Simmons on March 4-5. See the full season schedule at cometsports.com.
Junior catcher Bobby Garner is pleased to have Hamilton on the team and looks forward to getting to know him.
“When I first heard about Hamilton joining us, I was very excited to be able to be a part of his life and his family’s life and just to show him what a team sport can offer someone as an individual,” Garner said. “I know we’re going to have a great friendship.”
Hamilton was previously matched with the men’s basketball and swimming teams at Queens University of Charlotte. Moving to a new school and city is hard for any 9-year-old, especially one who is coping daily with the side effects of cancer treatment. But being a part of the Comets will be a big help.
The baseball team is the second program in UT Dallas’ athletic department to welcome a young cancer patient to its squad. The Comet volleyball team welcomed 5-year-old Kaitlyn Renee Johnson last season.
Pablo Juarez, sports editor of The Mercury, contributed to this report.
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].