C.J. Aiken blocks shots, beat cancer
PHILADELPHIA - January 13, 2012 (WPVI) -- St. Joseph's University has more wins that they did in all of last year. A big part of that success is because of their big man, Plymouth Whitemarsh grad, C.J. Aiken, who has already won the biggest fight of his life.
CJ Aiken loves to get airborne, and he knows his dunks are electric, but it's blocking a shot that really gets a rise out of him.
"I like blocking shots. It gets the crowd into it. I hate boring games. I hate quiet crowds. So when I block a shot, the crowds go wild," said Aiken.
The 6'9" Saint Joseph's sophomore averages 4.5 blocks per game, that's second in the nation.
"He's always been gifted at blocking shots at a very early age, and he's also been able to combine the blocking of shots without fouling," says Coach Phil Martelli.
That same mentality that makes C.J. so good at blocking shots, also helped him block out the pain during the most difficult time of his life.
At the age of 7, C.J. was diagnosed with burkets lymphoma; a type of cancer.
"I hated it, chemo and everything. I just hated it, and I cried a lot," said Aiken.
He had two surgeries, endured a month-long hospital stay, and then months of chemotherapy and radiation.
A local coach vs. cancer tournament was held to benefit Aiken during his fight.
More than a decade later he's playing for Phil Martelli, arguably the biggest supporter of Coaches versus Cancer there is.
"He will become a real poster child for what can be, and the odds that you can overcome. As long as we are all pushing in the same direction in fighting that disease," said Martelli.
"I just try not to take everything so serious. I try not to stress," said Aiken. "Nothing can be that serious, especially with basketball. Just go out there and have fun."
A few months after his surgery, his mom introduced him to basketball to get him off the couch, and now he is playing on the college level.
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