OSU's Justin Blackmon has Super Fan and Super Friend in Olivia Hamilton
The Sperry third-grader, who is undergoing treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, has developed a friendship with the Cowboys' receiver.
STILLWATER — Justin Blackmon wears half a dozen of those silicone message bracelets on his wrists.
Olivia Hamilton notices only one of them.
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During a season in which Blackmon is winning Cowboy hearts with every catch, the Oklahoma State receiver has no bigger admirer than the Sperry third-grader. She is enamored with him. She is a Justin Blackmon super fan.
But her passion has nothing to do with him leading the nation in touchdown receptions or having a career night seemingly every time he steps onto the football field. Last week it was 13 catches and 190 yards at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Olivia was a fan long before any of that.
The little girl with the big smile has cancer — acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It caused a tumor the size of an orange that is inoperable and near her heart.
The treatment plan: 108 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.
Blackmon has become Olivia's diversion from the hospitals and doctors, the suffering and pain.
The two met earlier this year, and what has happened since has been as organic as it has been special. He has become her friend, and she has become his biggest fan.
"That's what I hear," Blackmon said.
"I'm a big fan of her."
The football player and the cancer patient first met last winter. She was one of four kids invited to OSU's Coaches vs. Cancer basketball game, and he was one of the OSU athletes asked to help with the event. Blackmon was randomly assigned to Olivia.
"It was just super sweet," her mom, Jennifer, said. "She just really took to him. She thought it was super cool that he was giving her some attention."
Athletes often do community service, having brief and oftentimes meaningful encounters, but they rarely have a chance to keep in touch with those who they've touched.
Not this time.
Olivia wanted to keep in touch with Blackmon, and this is a little girl with an iron will.
A little over a year ago, Olivia had a run of health problems. First was the flu, then arm pain, then shortness of breath. None seemed related, but when her arm pain kept her awake at night, Jennifer and David Hamilton decided their daughter needed more testing.
An echocardiogram turned up the first sign of serious trouble. Jennifer knew it had before the doctor even gave them the results.
"I'll never forget the look on his face," she said. "It was almost like I could read his mind. He was just saying, 'I wish I could help you.' He didn't even say those words, but I could feel it.
"He knew there was a tumor there."
Olivia was immediately admitted to the pediatric cancer unit at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa.
She remained there for almost a month.
She had a port placed in her chest where meds could be administered or blood could be drawn. She began chemotherapy with an intense dose that broke down her tumor. As the cancerous cells sloughed away, though, they affected other parts of her body. Her kidneys started shutting down, and she had to be rushed to intensive care and placed on dialysis.
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