WKYT | Lexington, Kentucky | News

Ballin' for Braxton: Teen honored at basketball game

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Excitement fills the air in the Frankfort Convention Center just moments before Henry Clay and Lafayette High Schools square off. It's a rivalry that will determine who advances in the 11th Region tournament.

But on the Henry Clay sideline there's a familiar face missing.

"His heart and soul is with this basketball team right now," said Michelle Upthegrove, whose son Braxton is the team's manager.

Instead of being there with the team, Braxton had a different view of the game.

"They are going to play for him tonight! We are going to win! We're going to go all the way and it's going to be about these boys loving him," predicted Braxton's mother.

A win for the 16-year-old has a different definition. The high school sophomore is in the hospital, battling kidney failure as he waits for his second transplant. He's been waiting for three years.

"I got this, I got this," repeated Michelle, as the nerves built up just moments before halftime because on this night she is his biggest advocate.

"Because there's somebody that can be a donor for my son and can save his life, and that is why I'm here," Michelle addressed to the crowd gathered.

For that brief moment, it didn't matter if you were pulling for the red team or the blue, it was all about pulling for Braxton.

"That many kids can put aside their aggressions and come together for one cause," reacted Braxton's Uncle, Michael Upthegrove.

Michael admitted seeing the cheerleaders and the team wearing t-shirts with the phrase "Ballin' for Braxton" printed on the back, was a humbling sight.

"It doesn't matter what side of the bench you're sitting on, what we all want is somebody else's child to get the chance to live longer," added Charlotte Wong, of the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates.

Wong, joined Michelle Upthegrove on the court at halftime, and later returned to her table to help pass out information and take volunteers to become organ donors.

While this game isn't life or death, it can still have that impact explained Wong, "What's happening here, tonight, in this arena is going to save somebody's life."

On the court, the night wasn't easy for Braxton's buddies, but hope held high. With less than a minute to go, they trailed by seven but stuck it out and pulled off the miracle win. While he may not have been there to see it, you know from his hospital bed Braxton was grinning from ear to ear.

If you'd like to learn more about being a live organ donor, and how you can help Braxton, go to www.donatelifeky.org.


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