MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jace Caldwell is no longer able to play basketball for his father Juvonte Caldwell.
“It just hurts a lot because I just wish that he could be a normal kid if I could trade places with him I would. When you’re talking to a doctor and his eyes are getting watery and he’s telling you that there's nothing they can do you start to wonder like, man can we keep doing this?" said Caldwell.
From the start, Juvonte Caldwell said his son Jace Caldwell has always been a quiet yet outgoing kid and just like his father loved playing basketball.
“Besides school, basketball was his thing. I think he loved basketball more than he loved me,” said Juvonte.
Just as Jace’s basketball career started doctors found a cancerous tumor on Jace’s brain that required emergency surgery, but was successfully removed, allowing Jace to get back in the gym.
However, just three years later, Jace was five, and his cancer returned but still, Jace was determined to play.
“He would literally go get a whole day of radiation and chemo, he’ll go the game and he’ll play harder than anyone. He won't say "aw dad I’m tired" or dad "I’m hurting". He would tell me he’s hurting but I’d ask him if he wanted to come out of the game and he would say no,” said Juvonte.
Caldwell said Jace was a natural-born shooter adding that it was all due to Jace’s time spent with a family friend and trainer Frank Harris, father of former Memphis go-to shooter Tyler Harris, who also inspired Jace.
“I can remember when Jace was born, I can remember when he turned two years old. As soon as he turned two years old Jace started shooting a basketball, every day he was in my backyard, and he and his brother, shooting the ball,” said Frank.
“You know, just seeing Jace out there, he was the youngest he was always the smallest one around. He was always just sucking up the knowledge from us, me, his older brothers. He was always looking up just trying to learn new things,” said Tyler.
Coach Frank said Jace was a baller, snagging 20 and 30-point games during and after recovering from his second bout with cancer.
However, two years later, at age seven his cancer returned.
“He fought through it a long time, up until this past year,” said Juvonte.
Doctors were able to successfully remove the tumors found, but it was short-lived.
In May of 2021, doctors found four new tumors, three on his brain and one on his spine, causing Jace to lose his ability to walk and hindering his eyesight, hearing, and speaking.
“Now he’s starting to cry and express his emotions that he’s tired. He wishes he could do stuff, he wishes he had friends and people to come and sit down with him. I think it would put a smile on his face because haven’t seen him smile in so long,” said Juvonte.
Knowing this, coach Frank and Tyler are organizing 'Jumpers for Jace'.
A fundraiser that will help with medical expenses and also medical supplies.
Right now, Jace requires 24-hour care, with doctors predicting his condition to worsen severely in the next six months.
“Every day this kid is fighting for his life, and ill be honest you can never count him out,” said Frank.
The Harris family and Jace’s parents are hoping to not only put a smile on Jace’s face but also give him a sense of normalcy surrounding him with the very thing he loves most, basketball.
“I actually see kids who are in worse conditions than him, and have heard parents grieving because their child has passed right beside me, so things like that give me the strength and the appreciation that he’s even here with us,” said Jace.
Jumpers for Jace is July 30th from 9 am to 6 pm at the 'House of We' on Shelby Oaks Drive.