Football

Teen with cancer fulfills wish to meet Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson

Amzie Smith and the University of Louisville Cardinals share a common bond: they both keep fighting.

That’s what the team’s star quarterback, Lamar Jackson, had to tell Smith, the soon-to-be 17-year-old Ballard High School (Louisville) student that was diagnosed with stage 4 adult liver cancer about a year ago.

“He said we’re going to keep fighting with you,” Smith said about meeting Jackson, something that was one of her last wishes. “It was awesome to experience the hype and pride I have for the team.”

Doctors gave Smith months to live, but she made it to Friday’s football game to walk in the Card March, get a signed football from Jackson and have a front-row seat to see her favorite team face off against Duke. Meeting Jackson, one of the top college football players in the nation, was just one of her wishes that has come true.

“This year, Lamar has really taken the initiative to lead the team, and I think that’s awesome,” Smith said.

Ballard High School student and cancer patient Amzie Smith received a hug as well as a football with a personal message "Keep Fighting, Stay Strong" from Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson before the Duke game Friday evening. (Photo: Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal)

Ballard High School student and cancer patient Amzie Smith received a hug as well as a football with a personal message “Keep Fighting, Stay Strong” from Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson before the Duke game Friday evening.
(Photo: Matt Stone, The Courier-Journal)

Jackson, whose grandmother died of cancer when he was a young boy, said he was proud and grateful to have the opportunity to meet Smith.

“It was a touching feeling for me,” Jackson said. “When I heard the story that (Smith) had stage 4 cancer, I wanted to meet her because my grandma was my heart. Seeing someone with cancer, I don’t like that. I hate cancer. I really wanted to meet her, and I’m glad I did. It was cool. She was smiling, smiling pretty hard, and I’m glad we were able to make her day.”

Through two sessions of chemotherapy and dealing with pain daily, Smith credits her faith for keeping her positive.

“God has kept me so comfortable,” she said. “It sounds really weird, but this has been such a blessing. From this disease, I’ve gotten a bunch of exposure and been able to share how God has been with me through this and has allowed me to see the positive side of things. And I’ve gotten to spread that to others around me.”

RELATED: Randall Cunningham calls Lamar Jackson “amazing”

Smith was diagnosed with liver cancer last November, her mom, Kathy Douglas, said. She stopped treatment in August with a goal to live to her birthday, which is Saturday.

“From the beginning in her hospital bed, she said she’s going to squeeze in as much life as she can,” Douglas said. “I’m proud of her and the way she’s handled this.”

Last January, Smith’s dad, Dan, helped her set up a GoFundMe account calledAmzie’s bucketlist. She said it has raised over $8,000 and sent her to Universal Studios and Disney World.

She has also been to Europe through a school trip and recently returned from a whale watching trip in Victoria, British Columbia.

Douglas said Smith’s cancer is progressing, but now that her daughter has turned 17, she thinks she’ll live to see the new year.

“Once she got to her birthday, she started and praying and hoping for Halloween and Thanksgiving,” she said.

Smith’s next adventure? Celebrating her birthday by going camping with her friends.

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