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Khari Harding and the Signing Day story behind a father's smile

COMMENTARY — Six years after his father brought him out of a bad situation and back to Oklahoma, Khari Harding is preparing to leave again — this time on a scholarship to Auburn University.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 6, 2013
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/articleid/3752833/1/pictures/1945918">Photo - Khari Harding talks to his grandmother, Mary Harding, after the signing day ceremony at Edmond Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Harding will play football at Auburn. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
Khari Harding talks to his grandmother, Mary Harding, after the signing day ceremony at Edmond Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013. Harding will play football at Auburn. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

Life was grand.

But then in the fall, Corie started feeling bad. He went to the doctor, looking for answers.

The diagnosis?

Colon cancer.

“I didn't know what to do, didn't know what to expect, didn't know what was going to happen,” Khari said. “I was depressed.”

Corie spent three weeks in the hospital as doctors removed a two-inch tumor.

When he finally got to come home, he was getting chemotherapy and taking lots of medicine, some of which made him sick. Khari would hear him get up in the middle of the night, and he didn't know what to do.

Corie told him not to worry.

“I'm a fighter,” he told his son. “You fought with what you went through. We've got the same genes. We're fighters.”

Corie, who says the support of family and friends has been unbelievable, is down to one treatment a week now. He calls it “light chemo,” though no amount of chemo seems like it would be light.

“I'm feeling good,” said Corie, who hopes to return to work next week but will continue his weekly chemo through July. “I still have a little pain here and there, but I'm fighting through it.”

Khari said, “He's leaving the house all the time now.”

These are good days.

But even if Corie were still on the meds that made him sick, it's impossible to believe he would've missed Wednesday afternoon's ceremony. That smile on his face as he watched Khari sign was evidence of that.

“It's such a positive day,” he said. “To have this type of opportunity to go down to college and not pay for anything ... I'm proud of him.

“I love him so, so much.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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