Scott's big boy, LSU left tackle
Like so much in college football these days, the friendship between Black and
When Black, then a sophomore, posted that message on Mikey's page at
Laurina remains convinced a desire to watch the BCS title game helped Mikey heal faster than anyone expected. "He knew that the LSU football team was getting ready to play that game," Laurina says. "That was a push. That was a real incentive for him to get well." So, too, was the care package that arrived from Baton Rouge. It contained the game ball Black had received for his role in the SEC championship game win against Tennessee, signed by the entire LSU team. "That's why we play the game," Black said. "For people like him."
Mikey watched the Tigers beat the Buckeyes from his hospital bed. In the third quarter, a Fox camera showed Black's left forearm wrapped in athletic tape with "Mikey" scrawled in marker. Later that month, Mikey went home. Not long after, Mikey met Black face-to-face. Though Mikey was confined to a wheelchair, he never let it dampen his spirits. "He never would let you know that he was hurting," Black says. "He always had a smile on his face."
When Mikey turned 9 last July, his parents took him to LSU to see the national championship crystal ball. Tipped off the Congers were visiting, Black and LSU coach
While the Congers celebrated a football season away from hospitals and chemo, the Tigers suffered on the field in a rebuilding season. Despite a wealth of talent, they went 8-5 (3-5 in the SEC). That wore on Black and his teammates, and it had more than a little to do with Black's decision to return. "We have a horrible taste in our mouths," Black said. "Last season, that's not us. That's not how we play. A lot of things went wrong. There's nobody to blame but ourselves."
Now Black returns to a team with a settled quarterback situation -- sophomore
Mikey, meanwhile, should get plenty of chances to watch Black play this season. Earlier this month, he visited St. Jude and his doctor declared his disease remains in remission. "I'm not done yet," Mikey boasted to his mother's delight. This fall, Mikey, who just turned 10, will enter third grade. Black, meanwhile, will continue to refine his game. If Black helps bring LSU another national title, he'd happily dedicate it to the boy who inspires him every day. "I love him," Black says. "I'll be friends with him until the day I die."