Robbie Stanford, left, chats with Blake Griffin and then Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers
Robbie Stanford has been battling leukemia for 15 years. He is in the final stages of his fight with the cancer, and one of his final wishes was to be able to attend a Clippers game with his son. He will do that Saturday when the Clippers host the New Orleans Pelicans at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center.
Stanford did not know that he was also going to be offered the chance to have a practice experience with the Clippers. Stanford, 54, did that Friday at the Clippers’ practice facility in Playa Vista. He met and laughed with players, he spoke with coach Doc Rivers and he wore some practice gear while taking some shots from the floor. Afterward, he was all smiles.
“Big fan of the Clippers and it was a dream of mine to take my son to one of the games, and I never knew I was going to get invited to come to the practice and actually meet the guys,” said Stanford, who was accompanied by his 14-year-old son Nile and 16-year-old daughter Sydney. “So this has been an amazing experience to be here and put on some gear and go out and shoot a few air balls.”
Stanford, originally from Chicago and a Bulls fan, said he has been a Clippers fan for about five or six years. He was asked which of the players he most enjoying talking to Friday.
“It was all really exciting, so it’s hard to choose,” he said. “But meeting Blake (Griffin), meeting Chris (Paul) … I mean, come on, they’re all amazing.”
Stanford laughed when talking about his time with J.J. Redick.
“Redick told me he was going to give me some pointers because he said my shooting percentage was pretty low,” Stanford said.
Stanford has been in this fight for a long time, and he said that has given him the time to deal with all the emotions of his plight. Along the way, he and wife Jade started a preschool in Culver City that is geared toward helping others in similar situations find affordable day care.
“About 10 years ago my wife and I looked for a preschool for our children and we were basically broke because we had some new medical bills,” he said. “So my wife started a preschool to help families with chronic or terminal illnesses.”
Stanford began to cry. He gathered himself and continued.
“And today, it’s one of the leading schools in the Culver City area,” he said. “And it’s just an amazing, amazing experience, what my wife created. And I can help her. And every day we can help families, is a gift.”
A story done by CBS in 2013 indicates that if a family can’t afford to pay for the cost of the preschool because of a chronic or terminal illness, the school – named Village Tree Preschool – pays it for the family.
Jamal Crawford, one of the players with whom Stanford spent a few minutes, said Stanford’s situation puts things in perspective.
“This is a game,” Crawford said. “Obviously, you care about wins and losses and everything, but there is so muuch more to life than basketball.”
For Stanford, at this point it’s all about family.
“Now I focus on my family and every day is a holiday, so we just love each other,” he said.
As Stanford spoke, his children were in the background, looking lovingly at their father.