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MSU shooting survivor John Hao receives call from James Harden

February 25, 2023
Sparrow’s new urgent care location, Sparrow East Lansing, 2682 E. Grand River Ave., opened its doors Jan. 16, 2013, to patients. Prior to moving to its larger location, the center was located at 2248 Mt. Hope Road, in Okemos. Darcie Moran/The State News
Sparrow’s new urgent care location, Sparrow East Lansing, 2682 E. Grand River Ave., opened its doors Jan. 16, 2013, to patients. Prior to moving to its larger location, the center was located at 2248 Mt. Hope Road, in Okemos. Darcie Moran/The State News —

Still recovering in the hospital after the Feb. 13 shooting on MSU’s campus, survivor and international student John Hao got an unexpected call from one of his idols. On the other side of the phone was Philadelphia 76er’s star basketball player, James Harden, wishing to give Hao words of encouragement to keep being strong throughout the struggle

John Hao was critically injured during the shooting, severing his spinal cord and injuring his lungs. He has remained in the ICU since last Monday with his family, being stabilized with a breathing tube in his lungs. A GoFundMe has been set up to assist his family to negate various costs, including travel.

His friend and roommate, hospitality business sophomore Argent Qian, said that Hao is a huge sports fan and was pursuing a career in sports management. A call from one of his sports idols was one of the things that had Hao smiling within the last two weeks

Journalism junior Yousef Enayah read an article on Hao, reading that Harden was Hao's favorite basketball player. Enayah's brother works with the Nike and Adidas, specifically working with basketball players for designing their signature shoes. His brother had worked with Harden in the past, so he reached out to the PR team of Harden to get him on board with surprising Hao with something to cheer him up. Enayah's brother got a response in minutes from the team, telling them they would make it happen.  

"[This is about how] great sports can be and how much they can mean to a community and how in dark times, you can still find the light," Enayah said.

Harden then heard Hao’s story: surviving the shooting, yet being paralyzed from the chest down due to his wounds. When the basketball player heard that Hao was a big fan of him and his team, he decided to step up to raise his spirits

Harden sent an unreleased amount of money to the GoFundMe that had been started for his hospitalization bills as well as sending his own game-worn sneakers for Hao to have and signed memorabilia

Over the phone, Harden gave Hao a talk about being strong through his injuries

“I know it’s tough right now, but you have to stay physically strong, you know what I mean? You just gotta just think positive thoughts and keep pushing and fighting,” Harden said over the phone to Hao. “I got you.”

Harden said over the phone that he loved to see Hao smiling, promising Hao that he would be alright. Hao was able to respond, mirroring what Harden was saying to him: “I got it. I got you.” 

In the video, Harden said Hao should keep his phone number so the pair could talk in the future and he hopes that Hao will soon be able to come to one of his future games

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