Sacramento Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft after playing one year for Kentucky University. A quick scroll through the 20-year-old’s social media shows that off the court, like most millennials, Fox is a huge fan of Dragon Ball Z and video games. What many may not know about the NBA sophomore is the story of his mother, Lorraine Harris-Fox, an 18-year breast cancer survivor and advocate.
In October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, De’Aaron and Lorraine spoke exclusively to EBONY.com about her journey and how her son plans to continue to help the fight against breast cancer on the court.
De’Aaron, who had seven assists during the Kings’ opener against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 10, will donate $100 per personal assists completed at home games in the 2018-19 season. Through his Breast Cancer Community Assist program, the NBA player will give up to $20,000 to the Albie Aware Breast Cancer Foundation. The money will go toward providing mammograms and screenings to Sacramento women in financial need.
In 2017, more than 1,500 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in the greater Sacramento, California region.
Lorraine is appreciative of the “wonderful” charity work her son is doing. Through moments of laughter, she explained how intensely she’s been rooting for De’Aaron this season. During the first few Kings’ games she said she shouted, “Don’t mess up his assists!” and “We’re trying to get assists here, so make this shot!”
The point guard acknowledged that he had little recollection of his mom’s battle. He knew it was a mission to take on because of conversations she had with him and his cousin, Quentin, who he refers to as a big brother. Lorraine began raising her nephew when he was 5, after her sister passed away in January 1997 from breast cancer. De’Aaron was born 11 months later.
There is a history of breast cancer in her family. Her deceased sister was diagnosed in 1993 and was in remission until 1996. She has another sister battling breast cancer who was diagnosed in 2013 and has had two reoccurrences.
Lorraine was diagnosed in 2000 before De’Aaron turned 3. She discovered a small lump in March during a breast self-examination. After an ultrasound examination, the doctor “didn’t take [the mass] seriously” because she was only 33 years old.
Women are advised to begin annual mammograms from age 45 to 54, according to Cancer.org.
Lorraine’s physician said it was likely just a cyst, but she scheduled a biopsy anyway.
“The hardest part is waiting for that phone. It was the longest three days of my life,” she said.
“When I got the call, I was at work. I was traveling at the time. I went outside with one of my co-workers [who] knew I was waiting for the test results. When the doctor told me that it was breast cancer, I cried for a few moments.”
Lorraine quickly went into survival mode. “I had a toddler and I was raising my nephew, and he already lost a mom and I was [determined] for him not to lose another [one],” she said she thought after the diagnosis. “There were moments of fear and uncertainty, but I knew I had to do everything that I needed to do for me to be able to stay alive and raise my two boys.”
When she returned home, she scheduled her lumpectomy, a surgical procedure that removes only the tumor and leaves most of the breast skin and tissue in place. With her husband by her side, Lorraine fought for her life, and without hesitation made sure her two boys always got the best of her.
Really enjoyed going back to Houston to give back to local kids and raise awareness for breast cancer- crazy I’m giving life advice to these kids now lmao 😂https://t.co/hUngHrMD7a
— De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) October 21, 2018
Although De’Aaron doesn’t remember the struggle, he understands how differently his life would be without his mother.
“She caught hers early and that was a huge factor in being able to beat it,” the New Orleans native said. That’s why he made the promise to use his platform to help advocate for breast cancer screenings.
“Breast cancer is becoming prevalent in younger and younger people,” Lorraine said. “You can’t really wait until you’re 40. Know your family history and be diligent in your breast care. [At 33] had I not found my lump and I wouldn’t be here.”
Nearly 1 million women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2018. At the start of the year, more than 3.1 million women in the U.S. had a history of breast cancer, including those being treated and who have survived the disease.
The Sacramento Kings next home game is tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.