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Teen With Leukemia Will Start For Bellarmine Against Louisville

Via Bellarmine Magazine

If you weren't planning on attending Sunday's exhibition game between Louisville and Bellarmine at the KFC Yum Center, you now have a pretty big reason to alter your schedule.

Patrick McSweeney, a 15-year-old St. X student with life-threatening leukemia, will be announced as a starter for the Knights when they take floor against U of L. McSweeney, whose nickname is "The Fighting Irishman," has been battling the disease since he was five.

Although he's grown up a Cardinal fan, McSweeney has been close to Bellarmine head coach Scott Davenport and the Knights program since 2012. It was then that he got hooked up with BU through Team IMPACT, a Boston-based nonprofit that pairs chronically ill children with their favorite college teams. When asked why he picked the Knights instead of U of L or UK, McSweeney offered up the extremely logical response that everyone likes Bellarmine players because they're not a part of the Louisville/Kentucky rivalry.

After weeks of going through the necessary steps with the NCAA, the ACC and the Great Lakes Valley Conference, Davenport finally received word on Wednesday that McSweeney has the okay to suit up for Bellarmine on Sunday.

"Patrick was just speechless," Debbie McSweeney told ESPN's Dana O'Neill. "Basketball is this kid's favorite sport. Having Bellarmine, having something that's normal, that's the key. With all of these treatments, all the isolation, normal disappears."

Just a day after seeing his dream come true inside the Yum Center, McSweeney will have to head to Philadelphia for more treatment. The family's transportation and hotel stay will be paid for by Rick Pitino.

This is one of the cooler stories we've had around here in a while, and I'd suggest you both read O'Neill's piece in its entirety and make an appearance at the game on Sunday.