TORONTO -- Brampton teen Corey Groves, who is battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer, got a handshake from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James on Christmas Day after his story went viral.

It was an idea that 17-year-old Groves came up with several months ago after he was diagnosed with stage four sarcoma desmoplastic small cell tumours in his stomach and liver.   

The teen was suffering from this rare type of cancer, which has only a 15 per cent survival rate, but he was determined to stay positive. He decided, he wanted to meet NBA superstar LeBron James, and not for an autograph or a jersey, but simply for a handshake. 

Armed with an Instagram account, and a following that grew to include tens of thousands of people around the globe, Grove’s dream came true on Christmas Day.

It was a team effort that brought Groves and his family to Los Angeles for the holidays. The Children’s Wish Foundation provided the trip, while the Lakers and Toronto Raptors’ superfan Nav Bhatia helped to arrange the meeting.

However, Groves admits he wasn’t entirely sure the meeting would happen until the day before. 

“Soon as I went in to the arena my eyes locked on him, and he just looked directly in my direction,” Groves said, speaking to CTV News Toronto Friday. “He knew that I was coming at that point in time, and it was phenomenal!”

Groves said he was determined to keep his composure, but it was something his mother had more trouble with.

“I tried to stay calm and collected because this is my moment, I can't screw it up. My mom's there, she's like ‘oh my god LeBron's right there, LeBron's right there.’ and I'm like ‘yeah I know he's right there.’”

Groves said he tried to act as if LeBron James was an average, normal person in order to stay calm. 

“It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I wanted it to be flawless,” he said.   

Groves said he also got to meet and chat with a number of other Lakers’ players, and as for the handshake, it happened just as Groves had hoped.  

Groves also got the chance to thank his hero for being a role model. He said that he told him “just thanks for making this opportunity possible.”

He said that the basketball star told him that the pleasure was all his, and that it was wonderful having him there.

Groves and his family also got to watch the Christmas Day game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. He said the atmosphere was “amazing … like nothing I’ve ever been to before.”

Now that he’s achieved his dream, Groves said he hopes to use his new fame to help others achieve their dreams. 


@kingjames @lakers @coreyswish2019

A post shared by Corey’s wish (@coreylakerfan) on

“I think the LeBron thing is only the beginning. I want to start to try to help other people in their wishes to meet their potential celebrities,” he said. 

Back in the GTA, Groves said he has resumed his chemotherapy treatments at Sick Kids and Credit Valley hospitals. He said that while he continues his cancer fight, he also plans to continue the kindness that helped make his dream come true.

“I know that making a wish for someone else is hard, it took everything in my effort to make my wish happen, so if I could put in a good word for that other person, I would like to do that.”