Chris Paul, Clippers host Iowa's McCaffery family

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Patrick McCaffery (with ball) had a dream come true on Monday. (Clippers.com)

Less than two weeks ago, CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel portrayed a different side of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery. He showed a picture of how McCaffery, upon learning about one particular family’s plight dealing with a sick child, had reached out in support and invited the Starmers to take in Hawkeye practice, to have his players embrace the family. 

That empathy was recently returned to McCaffery, whose own son, Patrick, it was revealed, had a malignant tumor removed the same day Iowa faced Tennessee in the First Four from Dayton.

Chris Paul, one of 14-year-old Patrick’s favorite players, reached out to him prior to the surgery on his thyroid two weeks ago and then called him again after the surgery.

On Monday, Paul, Doc Rivers and the Clippers arranged for the McCafferys to visit the team before their game in Minnesota. The scene seems as awesome as it sounds.

“[Chris Paul’s] interaction with Patrick has been so genuine. When he found out today that he was going to shootaround, he hasn’t smiled like that in a month. I just can’t thank Doc and Chris and the Clippers enough,” the elder McCaffery told Clippers.com

“From the beginning, when Dino Gaudio and Pat Kelsey first reached out to Chris, Patrick was really scared. He didn’t know if it was cancer, and he had never had surgery. Chris first got on the phone with him and talked about that, ‘It’s OK to be scared.’ They really bonded and he said, ‘I’m going to call you back after the surgery.’ And he did, which really meant a lot to Patrick. We kind of loosely talked about it. We’ve got to see him play and here they were.”

After making the four-hour drive from Iowa City to Minneapolis, Patrick got to hang with Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan following Monday’s shootaround, all while Patrick’s mother filmed the experience from her cell phone.

“It’s real cool to get a chance to see him,” Paul said. “I got his phone number the day before he had surgery and I actually called him after he had surgery too to make sure everything went all right. He’s a great kid.”

Unfortunately, Patrick’s tumor was found to be malignant, but Monday’s events were hopefully both a reprieve and a distraction.

“To see him smile like this… ,” Fran said before trailing off. “He’s got another surgery coming up, that’s because subsequent to his last surgery, it was determined that his tumor was malignant. So that changed everything.”

“When you have a son, that’s a phone call that you never expect: malignant tumor. He’s in seventh grade. You don’t expect to get that phone call. When people respond with this type of kindness it means a lot. It means a lot to our family.”

No one understands that kindness more than Fran. 

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