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Morgan Mitchell's fighting spirit inspires Tracy Moore

Mitchell's ongoing battle against cancer motivates wide receiver Moore, who is playing some of his best football as a Cowboy.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 4, 2013

Tracy Moore wears nearly a dozen rubber bracelets on his left wrist for different kids who have cancer.

Three — one blue, one purple and gold, one black and orange — are for Morgan Mitchell.

That doesn't even account for all the battles she has waged against cancer.

The 19-year-old from Broken Arrow is fighting Ewing's sarcoma for the fifth time. She has undergone numerous surgeries and endured long rounds of chemo and beat back the disease time and again — only to have it come back.

“She just never gives up,” Moore said. “She just always has that smile on her face.”

The Oklahoma State receiver has drawn inspiration from her.

And vice versa.

After a bumpy couple of years — a punishment-induced limited role in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl followed by a serious ankle injury that resulted in a medical redshirt and a fifth season — Moore is playing some of his best ball as a Cowboy heading into Saturday's Bedlam game. He had the best performance of his career against Baylor, catching five balls for 126 yards and one touchdown.

That night, Morgan was one of the first people waiting outside the locker room to congratulate him.

“You did awesome,” she told him. “I'm so proud of you.”

He grinned with dimples almost as big as his smile — and that made Morgan smile one of her toothy grins.

Happy moments haven't always been easy for her to come by these past six years.

Morgan was a seventh grader at Coweta Middle School — she went there instead of Broken Arrow because her mom worked in the district for nearly two decades — when she started having pain in her right leg. She had gone through softball season without any problem, but when basketball practice started, the pain began and got worse if she ran.

Her mom, Marva, thought it might be a muscle strain, and they treated it for a week or so.

It only got worse.

They went to the urgent care clinic where they were told that Morgan might have a blood clot but that they'd need to do an ultrasound the next day. An ultrasound led to an MRI and then led to a specialist in Oklahoma City.

Morgan had Ewing's sarcoma, one of the most common bone cancers in children, in her fibula.

Surgery removed a big chunk of the bone, ending Morgan's basketball career.

It was devastating. Sports had always been a major part of her life — “She was the sports queen of the world,” her mom said — and she played year-round. She even played football in sixth grade, offensive and defensive line. But basketball was her first love.

She dreamed of one day playing in the WNBA.

But it wasn't long after surgery that she met some OSU athletes. She was taking chemo at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa when they visited as part of OSU's extensive Coaches vs. Cancer program.

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by Jenni Carlson
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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