KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville native Seth Palmer is a huge Grant Williams fan. He said he's rooted for Williams since his time in Tennessee and now, he roots for him in the NBA as Williams plays for the Boston Celtics.
Watching Williams play has helped Palmer over the last 14 months, as he has battled lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
Last spring, WBIR reported how Williams surprised Palmer in a video call. Earlier this month, Williams and Palmer met on Jan. 9 before the Boston Celtics played the Chicago Bulls.
“I didn’t know we were going to meet Grant Williams until we got there," Palmer said.
They talked about basketball and Williams asked how Palmer is doing. Then the NBA player and VFL signed Palmer's Celtics Grant Williams jersey.
The meetup was organized by Dream Connection, a local non-profit organization with the goal of making dreams come true for children with life-threatening or chronically debilitating illnesses in East Tennessee.
“It’s very uplifting. People go through things every day," said Bob McConkey, a Dream Connection advisory board member. "And they get depressed or upset, but when you see someone go through real life challenging struggles, then you can provide them something or help do something to live their life, it’s really uplifting as well.”
Palmer said he has faced those struggles with hospital visits and medications.
"Sometimes I just felt like giving up, like completely stopping chemo," he said. "Because I don’t think people get you to have to be quarantined from everybody. Basically, what everyone went through with COVID-19. I’ve gone through the last year. So that was just very tough.”
Seth is on an upswing now with his health and is able to leave his house. That trip to Boston definitely helped lift his spirits. On Jan. 9, Grant Williams had a great game. Seth was cheering as loud as he could.
“I think we were elbowing each other and Grant went off for 20 points, so I think Seth was his good luck charm," said Matt Palmer, Seth's father.
Palmer said it was a lot of fun.
“I lost my voice by the end of the night," he said.
It was a trip Seth won’t ever forget. He’s grateful to meet his favorite athlete in person and make a trip to Boston after being isolated for as long as he was.
“That was probably the greatest experience of my life," he said.
Seth also saw the Celtics play on Jan. 11 against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Celtics won both games he attended. The team put his name up on the video board at TD Garden in Boston too.
He also got autographs from NBA stars Jayston Tatum and Jaylen Brown.