LEXINGTON, S.C. (WIS) - It was a special night Thursday in Lexington for a teenager facing a grown-up battle.
Eli Adams is an eighth-grader at Meadow Glen Middle School. Diagnosed with leukemia for the third time, Eli is not letting that keep him from his dreams of playing basketball for his middle school team.
Inside the packed house at Meadow Glen Middle School in Lexington Thursday night, the love and support for Eli was impossible to miss.
The stands packed with his classmates, loved ones, and well-wishers in the community were all there to see the 14-year-old boy step foot on the hardwood floor, donning number 31.
Eli made the basketball team Sunday night and Thursday night he suited up for the first time. The roar was deafening when his name was announced in the starting lineup.
He saw some action in a big-time win for the Gators over Pelion Middle School, scoring four points and inspiring all who attended.
A special play was designed at the beginning of the game, giving Eli a clear look at the basket. When his layup fell through the hoop, the gym erupted.
His father, Chris Adams, said he is amazed by his son's courage.
"Me, his mom, and his brother just look at him and think, ‘Wow.’ He's not giving up. He never has given up. And he's not going to give up now," Adams said.
Adams said his son was up at 5:15 on Thursday morning ready for action.
The family asked that $3,000 in proceeds from ticket sales and concessions last night went to Camp Kemo, a retreat for kids facing cancer, or who have beaten cancer.
Ernie Yarborough is a local insurance agent who volunteers with Camp Kemo. He was in attendance with other volunteers all cheering on Eli, who attended the camp in the past.
"Eli fought leukemia one time and he beat it," Yarborough said. "He fought it a second time and he beat it. Now, we're in the third time and we're gonna beat it again."
After the game, the team also presented Eli with a signed jersey, which all of his teammates signed. Former Gamecocks baseball coach Chad Holbrook helped frame the jersey and was there for the game and postgame presentation.
Holbrook knows firsthand what it's like to have a young son battling cancer. His son, Reece, was diagnosed with leukemia 15 years ago and beat it. He hopes Eli can do the same, once again.
"We wish we could make all this go away and that this kid could just be a normal kid. But he's living his best life right now," Holbrook said.
After all, Eli’s in the game and fighting with a lot of love in his corner.