Wall misses one game to honor spe­cial friend

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY JORGE CASTILLO jorge.castillo@wash­post.com

The Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards were with­out point guard John Wall when they faced the Mil­wau­kee Bucks on Satur­day night be­cause the twotime all-star had a more mean­ing­ful event to at­tend than an in­con­se­quen­tial ex­hi­bi­tion game.

Wall trav­eled to Wash­ing­ton af­ter his team’s win over the Philadel­phia 76ers on Fri­day night to par­tic­i­pate in Satur­day’s Light the Night Walk, a fundrais­ing event ben­e­fit­ing the Leukemia & Lym­phoma So­ci­ety.

He did so in honor of his “buddy” Damiyah Tele­maque-Nel­son, who died weeks be­fore her sixth birth­day last win­ter.

Wall, 25, al­ready was spon­sor­ing for Miyah’s team of friends and fam­ily, had made a five-fig­ure do­na­tion to­ward non-Hodgkin lym­phoma re­search and had been pro­mot­ing the event ev­ery day on his so­cial me­dia out­lets. But he didn’t ex­pect to make the event. He told re­porters Mon­day that the Wiz­ards’ sched­ule wouldn’t al­low him to. That changed when Coach Randy Wittman ap­proached Wall later in the week and asked him whether he would like to at­tend.

Wall and Miyah be­came close as she bat­tled Burkitt’s lym­phoma, a rare and ag­gres­sive form of non-Hodgkin lym­phoma. They FaceTimed when she was at the hospi­tal. He in­tro­duced her to Nicki Minaj.

She vis­ited him at Ver­i­zon Cen­ter, spend­ing time with Wall’s nieces and neph­ews.

Miyah died Dec. 8. That night, an emo­tional Wall led the Wiz­ards to a dou­ble-over­time win over the Bos­ton Celtics and broke down in tears dur­ing a postgame in­ter­view af­ter ded­i­cat­ing the ef­fort to his friend.

Wall spoke and cried at her funeral in front of the gath­er­ing at New Mace­do­nia Bap­tist Church in South­east.

“When you care for some­body and the bond just hits, you can’t re­ally con­trol it,” Wall told Dan Stein­berg last week. “I didn’t want it to be like, ‘All right, she’s gone. I don’t want to deal with this fam­ily [any­more],’ be­cause it was big­ger than that. . . . I wanted to still be a part of that fam­ily.”

TONI L. SANDYS/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

John Wall broke down af­ter a vic­tory Dec. 8 over the Celtics.

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