Gamecock Jesus Faces off-court battle

Watch WIS News 10 at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 8:24 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - If you feel like the Gamecocks have been missing some of their mojo, there’s a good reason why.

One of their biggest fans, the iconic Gamecock Jesus, has been fighting a big battle off the court.

After being sidelined for months, he decided to share his story with WIS with the hope of helping others while thanking Gamecock Nation for rooting for him the same way he’s always done for them.

His rousing presence is unmistakable.  Even in an arena sold out to the rafters, his energy is unmatched, the hype man of all hype men and the legend affectionately known as Gamecock Jesus.

“It’s wonderful because my whole thing has always been that the fans can help with the game … that’s what I do. I make sure the fans are up and help them to win and it works.” Thompson said.

His real name is Carlton Thompson.  

His commitment to the Gamecocks goes back to 1968.  He was a sophomore in high school when his brother, a freshman at Carolina, invited him to his first Gamecock basketball game.

“Frank McGuire was here as coach and we had such a good team,” Thompson fondly remembers.  “John Roche hit that shot to win that game against Auburn… And we were sitting right there on the first or second row under the basket and I was just hooked and I’ve been a Gamecock Fan ever since.”

Thompson has been among the faithful fans waving his flag and stomping in the stands until unexpected news took sidelined him late last year.

“I started feeling really weak and sick around Christmas and I have been going up to all the basketball games up until that point and so I went & I thought I must have COVID or something,” Thompson said.

He recovered from COVID-19 but still felt weak.

“It just felt like I was totally drained and when I went back to the doctors and they started doing all kinds of tests and that’s when they figured out, I had prostate cancer and is it already spread to my bones,” he continued.

As a retired nurse, he understood exactly what he was facing.

Thompson said, “The prostate cancer that I have is very aggressive but it’s very treatable if you catch prostate cancer in the early stages and it is so easy to be screened with the PSA lab test, but I never did that and I want to encourage all guys, all men, to do that screening to prevent the cancer.”

His treatment regimen, which includes monthly chemo injections, is tough.

Thompson told WIS “I’m taking this daily oral chemotherapy, it really wears me out every morning. I have to take these four pills and then two hours later I have to eat and take another one prednisone. I’m going like through hot flashes all morning, I can’t, I can’t relax I’m sleeping, but I’m just fretting and fretting I’m hot one minute, cold next, my wife has been so encouraging and so helpful. She make sure I’m taking my medicine, she brings me breakfast every morning and make sure that I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do I don’t know how I would survive without her.”

And now his love that runs so deep for the Gamecocks is running back to him, with Coach Dawn Staley leading the way.

“This is your coach wishing you a speedy recovery. All of our love and prayers. Well wishes. We can’t wait to see you throwing that Gamecock Flag up, catching it, stomping your crocs back into Colonial Life,” said Staley.

“Dawn Staley is just like a dream,” Thompson says.  “She really is like a dream merchant”

Thompson said Staley has taught him what it means to really believe and that the cards, letters, and encouragement from Gamecock nation … have given a whole new meaning to … ‘Forever To Thee’

“Just all the love that I feel from everybody, my family and especially the Gamecock FAMs just keeps me going and makes me realize that we can win this. We can win this and we will.”

If you would like to send Thompson and his wife a note of encouragement or a gift card, you can mail them to the USC Women’s Basketball Office and they will make special deliveries to make sure he receives all the love and support Gamecock Nation has to offer:

Univ of South Carolina Wbb

Attn: Gamecock Jesus

1051 Blossom Street, Columbia S.C. 29208

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.