Gunner Smith gets jersey retired after losing battle to cancer in May
Gunner Smith wore jersey #33 for his middle school basketball team.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - From a young age, Brandon Smith knew his son Gunner was a special basketball player.
“He came to my camp, he was the MVP of my camp, he was a great basketball player but more importantly a great person” Powell Middle School coach Steve Waugh said.
At just 10-years-old Gunner was diagnosed with brain cancer. For over three years he fought while wearing an “all heart” shirt. After passing away in May, the saying “all heart” is still widely known across the area for being the battle cry of a brave 13-year-old that fought cancer until the end.
On Monday, Powell Middle School honored Gunner by retiring his #33 jersey in front of his family, teammates, and friends.
“It just means the world to our family that every time we come here we get to see that 33 up in the stands,” Smith said.
Before the Smith family was presented with a framed jersey, they saw a video tribute from former coaches and players including Kansas Head Coach Bill Self.
Throughout his three year fight, Smith said Gunner set the tone for how they were going to respond to a cancer diagnosis.
“You got to battle through adversity. You have to battle, you have to fight hard and word hard and just keep going,” Smith said.
In the coming days, Smith said the family will officially be launching the All Heart Foundation which will help families who are battling pediatric cancer. Smith said it was important to him that he ensured the funds donated will go directly to helping the families and not a generic fund for a hospital.
Before the ceremony closed and Gunner’s jersey was presented, the video tribute closed with a clip from Gunner simply saying “thank you”. A sentiment the Smith family reiterated after seeing the large turnout and support from the Powell community.
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