MARYSVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — The Marysville community rallied together this past weekend to raise more than $16,000 for Derric Brown, the father of star point guard Leah Brown.
Derric was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in October, but it’s not the first time the Brown family has dealt with tragedy. They went through it nine years ago when Derric suffered a massive stroke, which required removing a portion of his skull to make room for his swollen brain.
The injury left the right side of Derric’s body paralyzed and he was unable to talk for months. Years of therapy allowed him to regain movement with the help of a walking stick and relearn the ability to communicate in broken sentences.
“I matured quickly. I had to do some things no daughter wants to see or do,” Leah said.
“She would sit down and do speech with her dad, she would help him relearn the alphabet and relearn putting words together,” Leah’s mom, Dee, said. “That took a big chunk of her childhood, too, for the last nine years.”
For nine years, they found a routine and normalcy in their new roles. And then the cancer diagnosis came.
“With his current diagnosis, we’ve been saying we just want to embrace the suck,” Leah said. “Sometimes life throws you curveballs, but when in doubt just chose joy, chose to be happy and chose to focus on the things that don’t suck.”
One of those things that brings Leah joy is basketball.
“This is her escape. This is where she can just come and be Leah Brown the basketball player,” Dee said.
Led by six seniors including Leah, Marysville is one of the best teams in central Ohio with a 19-2 record.
“She hasn’t changed who she is. She stays true to who she is and who she is as a person, which is extremely selfless, extremely caring, joyful,” Marysville girls’ basketball coach Klarke Ransome said. “You would never be able to tell the things that she’s going through.”
Leah credits her ability to choose joy and compartmentalize her struggles by going to therapy.
“Therapy helped me see the bigger picture, especially understand my value and worth in my relationship with my family members and the dynamic that I have with my dad,” Leah said.
Their dynamic has changed a lot over the course of nine years. For most, that’s a small fraction of life, but for Leah Brown, those years provided a lesson that will last lifetime.
“If my dad is unfortunately dying to cancer and I’m over here stressed about a game, it definitely puts my life into perspective,” Leah said. “It makes me realize not to take things for granted and realize at the end of the day some things are out of my control.”