Yitzi Teichman, an 18-year-old battling brain cancer, signed a one-game contract with the Lakers on Sunday.
Teichman was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was 17 years old, and when his brain tumor was removed, Make a Wish Foundation came to Johns Hopkins Hospital and asked him what his wish was.
A California native that moved to Baltimore, Teichman was still true to his roots and responded that he wanted to be a Laker, and despite the Lakers’ losing season, the team still had a big fan eager to participate.
“It’s pretty easy I wanted to be a laker, I didn’t have much of a shot given my height,” Teichman said. “It’s either get good at basketball or get cancer, so I went with the cancer route,” he told Lakers Nation.
Despite the Lakers’ losing season, the team still had one big fan.
Thanks to Make a Wish Foundation, the wish Teichman never thought would come true was granted.
“I can’t thank them enough. That’s crazy,” Teichman added. “This is not even possible, and they made it possible.”
He was sitting next to Lakers coach, Mitch Kupchak, ready to sign the contract to be a member of the Lakers team. Teichman’s wish couldn’t have been granted at a better time: he became an official team member during Kobe Bryant’s farewell season tour. Bryant just so happens to unsurprisingly be Teichman’s favorite player.
While Teichman was being interviewed by Fox 11 News, he claimed that his first word as a baby was Kobe. He also mentioned that he would be an asset to the team—apparently his three-point shot is pretty good.
He even jokingly told Kupchak that, “It’d be hard for me not to improve your team.”
When Teichman was asked about his cancer, he noted that his light-hearted humor was the reason he was able to endure the cancer treatments.
“Always make jokes, always keep smiling and when things get awkward, just keep being funny and things get more awkward,” he said. “Just keep being funny. Keep on saying things where people say things like ‘Wow did he really just say that?’ Eventually it just gets so awkward, that it’s not awkward anymore.”
After he became an official team member, he received his a jersey and became number 18 on the team.
As a Lakers team member, Teichman was able to join in on the team meeting, practice with the team and sit on the Lakers bench throughout the entire game. His team locker was also placed right next to his role model, Kobe.
While on camera, Teichman gave a shout-out to his friend, Avi, who is in the midst of fighting his own battle against cancer. He then talked about his seven siblings that came to the game, and he reminisced about his favorite Lakers memory.
“My favorite Laker memory is with my Dad,” he explained. “We were flying to New York the night of Game 7 against the Celtics. We sat in front of a McDonalds TV that was probably about 19 inches with probably 200-300 people, and we all cheered. Celtics fans on one side. Lakers fans on another side. They won, so that was my favorite Laker memory.”
After the game, Lakers Nation asked Kobe Bryant about his reaction to having Teichman as a team member for the day.
“It was awesome,” Bryant responded. “He was just a part of the crew. He came in here and just hung out, sat next to me. He was here pregame, halftime, postgame. He fit in very well. He has an amazing spirit, and he also has a positive outlook on the situation in terms of how he was able to pick it up.”
Currently, Teichman’s cancer is in remission, and he has already been accepted to two colleges.