The Memphis Grizzlies have been a sad sack of a NBA franchise - years of lousy play, trading away good players for pretty much nothing (see Gasol, Pau). But when their mascot is stricken with cancer, that’s just unfair.
The MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL has the story on Eric McMahon, better known as the man beneath the fur of Grizz, the fun, fan-friendly mascot of an otherwise fan-unfriendly team. But Grizz hasn’t been prowling around FedEx Forum much these days, as Eric has been off the court fighting for his life against Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
McMahon has been in Memphis for the past two seasons, but it was early last year that Eric began to feel ill. Within three months, McMahon had lost a lot of weight before taking a trip to the doctors to discover the sad news.
By the time he was diagnosed, McMahon’s lymphoma had developed into stage 3B, which Eric described as being “bad”. In February, doctors put Eric through “aggressive” chemotherapy, but it only weakened his immune system - as a result, he couldn’t fight off a bacterial infection in his colon.
His health became so poor that it looked it it was the end for Eric:
Soon … McMahon was in full-blown crisis. The family was summoned to his bedside.
“His lungs collapsed, his kidney failed and his liver started to fail,” said (Eric’s mother) Mary McMahon. “He had two tubes to drain fluids out of his chest, more than three liters of fluid a day.”
Mary McMahon remembers asking the intensive care doctor for something — anything — to hold on to by way of hope.”
All we can do,” the doctor said, “is support his systems and hope his body starts to fight.”
Miraculously, McMahon’s body did start to fight back. And after four months & 30 rounds of chemotherapy, doctors have happily declared Eric cancer-free.
Although still weakened by the experience, McMahon is looking to bring Grizz back sometime this upcoming season. His ideal goal is to be back on the court for the first game of the season.
And it’s not hard to believe that of all the Grizzlies stepping back onto the floor for opening day, none will get louder cheers than the team’s costumed mascot.