A young basketball fanatic received an incredible surprise from the Cobblers on Saturday.
Twelve-year-old Joseph Stock was guest of honour at Sixfields for the League One clash with Rochdale, after Cobblers Chairman Kelvin Thomas heard about his story.
Joseph, who comes from Northampton, has beaten cancer three times, is deaf and has a titanium leg, which means he is in a wheelchair for most of the time.
Since using his chair, Joseph discovered a passion for playing wheelchair basketball, and recently trained with Northants Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball Club, who play at the University of Northampton’s Everden Sports Centre.
After hearing about Joseph’s love of basketball though the University, Kelvin spoke with his business partner – who also happens to be arguably the NBA’s greatest-ever player – Shaquille O’Neal.
Shaq was only too happy to sign a basketball, which was presented to Joseph before the Dale game kicked off. Joseph was also given free tickets for the game for him and his family, and this season’s Cobblers home shirt.
Kelvin said: “Joseph has clearly been through some difficult times, so when we heard about his story thanks to our link up with the University of Northampton, we were keen to show our support for him.
"He is a huge football fan and a big basketball fan as well, so the natural thing to do seemed to be to invite him and his family to one of our matches and to pass on a signed item from Shaq and Shaq Fu Radio.
"He and his family have shown tremendous strength and courage to deal with the battles they have faced, and I hope we have been able to help in some small way by giving them an afternoon out to enjoy as a family and by passing on the signed ball from Shaq Fu Radio.
"We wish Joseph and his family well, and we hope they will be back at Sixfields soon, cheering us on again!"
Joseph’s training session with Phoenix at the University of Northampton will be hitting the small screen next year, when he stars in Children’s BBC show, My Life. The episode follows Joseph as he gets a hearing dog, and documents the development of their unique relationship.