DALLAS — When Cade Clyne got out of the Intensive Care Unit and moved to a new room at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth during the recent Christmas holiday season, he had a surprise package waiting for him.
It was a gift package from the Dallas Mavericks. And it was the kind of gift that brightened up Cade’s day and nearly brought his family to tears.
Following a couple of freak basketball incidents last September, Cade underwent brain surgery on just before Christmas to remove a four-inch tumor. But upon seeing the precious items in the gift package from the Mavs, Cade acted like he didn’t have a care in the world.
“He was smiling from ear-to-ear,” said Cade’s mother, Ashley Clyne. “In fact, I think it was the first time he smiled in the hospital.”
The package included an autographed picture of forward Dirk Nowitzki, a get-well card signed by Mavs proprietor Mark Cuban, a mini basketball autographed by forward Harrison Barnes, a bobblehead, and two T-shirts and blankets. For Cade, it was as if he had won the lottery.
“We put a basketball in his hands and a picture in his hands, and he was just thrilled,” Ashley said. “He wanted to wear the shirt, so he wore the shirt to therapy.”
“He had to learn to walk again, so he had the shirt on. It was just wonderful for him to get such nice gifts.”
The Mavs came to Cade’s rescue after his world quickly turned upside down on a dime. A 6-1 guard/forward on the Byron Nelson High School junior varsity squad, Cade had just gotten a car for his 16th birthday in September.
A few days later he inadvertently endured multiple hits to his head on the basketball court.
“I tripped and fell in the game and hit my head on the court, and then a week later I got hit in the head with the basketball,” Cade said. “I just kept having headaches, and that’s when we found out everything.”
Needless to say, the diagnosis came as a total shock to the Clyne family.
“He was complaining of headaches, but he didn’t hit his head that hard, so my mother instinct was like ‘No, there’s no way he has a concussion,’ “ Ashley said. “But he just kept complaining of headaches for like a week and they were getting pretty severe.”
Following a CT scan and MRI, the Clyne family received the devastating news that brought them to their knees.
Ashley said: “Never did I dream (the doctor) was going to come in and tell me Cade had a four-inch tumor in the middle of his brain.”
Cade’s father, Jon Clyne, said: “Ultimately, we did not know what we were up against before they did the surgery and took (the tumor) out. And later we found out that it was benign and they were able to get it all out.”
“But they couldn’t just go in and take it all out in one trip. They had to take it out piece by piece.”
Cade eventually underwent a grueling 10-hour surgery.
“They cut his skull all the way across behind his ear and they took out a part of his skull that was probably equivalent to a saucer of a tea cup,” Ashley said. “And then they went in through his brain and had to get (the tumor) and chop it up because it was so big, and pull it out by sections.
“Then they put four metal plates in on the top. He’s my angel and it rocked my world, that’s for sure.”
The Clynes initially got connected to the Mavs when Jon emailed Cuban while trying to determine if he was planning on attending a basketball tournament at Byron Nelson High School which included Cuban’s high school team from Pennsylvania. He also wanted to see if Cuban could stop by and offer a word of encouragement to his son.
“Basketball is Cade’s life and he had been in low spirits,” Jon said. “I didn’t really even expect an email, but Mark sent an email saying he didn’t know what tournament I was referencing, but asked when Cade was going to get out (of the hospital) and that he’d like to bring him down and catch a game and let him meet some of the guys.”
After Cade got out of the hospital and was up for it, the Mavs were able to get him and his family to the American Airlines Center for the January 21 game against the Washington Wizards. After that game, Cade took his photo with and got some autographs from guards Wesley Matthews and Seth Curry, and with his favorite player — rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
“He was so excited,” Jon said of his son. “It was just an overall incredible experience for him.”
“It was just an incredible generous offer for the Mavericks to do that, and it was totally not expected and it really lifted Cade’s spirits. The Mavs were kind of cheering him on as he was going through his rehabilitation.”
While meeting the Mavs was akin to a dose of medicine for Cade, he knows his recovery period is a long ways from over.
“At first I didn’t know what to expect, and then after the surgery everything has just been good,” Cade said. “Everyone has been supporting me.”
“(The doctors) said I’m recovering good and everything will be back to normal in three months.”
During Cade’s recovery, the Clyne family had a brief scare.
“On Martin Luther King Day he quickly passed out and we had to call the ambulance to come get him, and just a couple of weeks ago he had one issue where he just completely went limp and was turning blue,” Ashley said. “(The doctors are) thinking that it was just him recalibrating and kind of getting back and getting refocused.”
“But he’s beaten so many of the odds. It’s been a miracle.”
A miracle that was assisted along the way by prayers and gifts from the Mavs’ organization.
“We couldn’t thank everybody with the Mavericks enough that were just more than kind,” Ashley said. “They re-checked on Cade and responded. He even asked us to read him the emails (he received from the Mavs) over and over. The pain medicine would make it where he couldn’t remember, and we’d read it to him again and again. It was something he would always look forward to every time he woke up.
“It definitely made a difference in my child’s life, and I appreciate it. It’s the little things that matter and people taking the time to appreciate somebody else’s child having a hard time. I truly appreciate this, and it’s absolutely amazing. The Mavs have been more than kind.”