ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A young soccer player from Albany, Georgia spent the season on the sidelines, his ability to play on hold. Instead of kicking the ball, he's trying to kick cancer and just like in sports, attitude is everything.
Malachi Russell’s jersey has double zero on the back. A number now retired at his Georgia school. The special honor was given to him because of what the 12-year-old has shared with others: his faith.
“It's different not being on the field,” Malachi said. “I like the intensity and being the last line of defense.”
He'd rather be walking on to the soccer field to take his place as keeper instead of sitting in a wheelchair. But from the sidelines, Malachi still helps his Sherwood Christian Academy soccer team win.
“Encouraging my teammates to push on when they're falling down,” Malachi said.
The 12-year-old suffers from an extremely rare form of cancer.
“Midline... it's at the base of my spine.”
Malachi receives treatment at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, traveling three hours each way for chemotherapy.
It is a grueling, long days for a kid. But he credits his care team for keeping him cheerful in the hospital and in his hometown where they recently ran in a fundraising 5K.
“They took the day off and drove all the way to Albany. Whoa! That's amazing!”
As for what keeps him fighting.
“I want to be an inspiration for other kids who are down.”
This soccer player's drive to "kick cancer," he hopes, will inspire other kids going through trials, too.
“The Lord has put me in this position for a reason and I'm still trying to figure it out. But I feel like He's given me this to be a light to other people.” Malachi said. “I just want to lift them up.”