Mahki English, all 3 feet 7 inches, is the Chestnut Hill College men’s basketball team’s secret weapon.
Majoring in battling cancer and inspiring buckets, the 5-year-old baller has been the team’s biggest inspiration. Thrilled to have Mahki on the team, head coach Jesse Balcer said Mahki has been a major impact this season.
“It’s a real relationship,” said Balcer, who signed Mahki onto the team during Midnight Madness in October. “It’s a little kid who’s going through some stuff with his family and he provides a lot of energy for us.”
Mahki has battled pediatric kidney cancer since April 2013.
“He had Wilms’ Tumor, which is cancer of the kidney,” said Ciara East, Mahki’s mother. “He went through chemo, and his last one was September 6. So now every three months, we go back to get scans to see if it’s growing back, but other than that he’s good.”
Mahki’s road to recovery has not always been easy, but since getting involved with the Griffins, through Team Impact, he has influenced them just as much as they have influenced him.
“Team Impact is an organization that puts kids that have illnesses, that are sometimes life threatening, other times not,” said Balcer, who got involved through the commissioner of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference. “But they connect them with college or high school teams in order to give them a sense of team and a sense of normalcy while they are going through some tough times.”
Team Impact approached Mahki’s family while he was a patient at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Within a week or two, a couple of my players and I went down to see him, and we obviously loved him, and we started the relationship,” said Balcer, who also says Mahki is shy but always has a smile on his face.
Despite Mahki’s quiet persona and shy disposition, his impact on the players and the team has given them a new perspective this season.
“I feel that he has impacted our team in a positive way. In our toughest moments, he gives us a little bit more energy, I guess you could say; another reason to fight on the court,” said sophomore guard Noel Hightower.
When not cheering on the Griffins, Mahki enjoys hanging with his friends and taking care of his new born brother.
Even though the Griffins season is coming to an end, insisted that Mahki’s contract is certainly not a one-year deal.