Emanuel Duncan is 19 years old, and his future is uncertain. A student football coach at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis, Duncan has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that turns muscle into fat. Most people with the disease don't live into their 20s. The teenager, who visited ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, in July 2014 thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, has just one item left on his bucket list: meet LeBron James.
"That's my role model," Duncan told the Indianapolis Star. "He inspires me to do everything. To be a good person, to put other people first, to live your life and do what makes you happy. If I meet LeBron James, that would make my day. I wouldn't ask for anything."
The feature story found its way to the Cleveland Cavaliers star.
"It just hit home," James said Friday at shootaround in New York. "It was a situation that I found out about and obviously I know there are a lot of kids and there are a lot of people in the world that are in similar situations or in situations of their own that's kind of tough or they're trying to find a way out or whatever the case may be. I just thought this one was unique and it meant something to me. So it's just me being myself."
He reached out to Duncan directly with this letter:
"I'm in a position that I hold with a lot of responsibility," James said. "And to give back to my fans and to be able to be a role model to them is something that I take very seriously."
There's no word yet on whether a meeting has been set up, but the Cavaliers and James -- who has a history of giving back -- visit the Pacers on Feb. 1.
Adam Reisinger and Dave McMenamin contributed to this story.