He sits at the end of the bench in street clothes that look like they were tailored for a very large man. He has a skullcap over his shaven head pulled down to his furrowed eyebrows. And his latest piece of bling is a yellow rubber band that has the words ‘Live Strong’ embroidered on it.
His name is Bradley Mosley and he wants everyone to know that he’s back.
Mosley is a point guard for the USF men’s basketball team whose senior season was cut down before it even began when he was diagnosed with renal medullary carcinoma, a rare form of cancer with very few survivors, on Nov. 8.
Renal cancer is a form of the life-altering disease that affects the patient’s kidneys. Less than 40 cases of the disease have been documented. But when Mosley became one of the few, the cancer had unfortunately also spread to his lungs.
Since he had to leave the team for chemotherapy at the Moffitt Cancer Center on campus, the cancer treatments have left him weak, diminishing his 6-foot-2, 189-pound body to a mere 139 pounds, even to the point where he was unable to stand and walk.
Now, two and a half months later, the 21-year-old’s weight is up to 155 and the cancer has left his lungs. He is also recovering from the chemo more quickly than when he first started.
“(The treatment) is going pretty good,” Mosley said. “It still makes me weak, but after a couple days, I’m back to myself.”
Mosley is back. He’s back on the bench, next to his teammates, on the edge of his seat, even jumping up and cheering for every point his team makes.
“It feels really good just to get out and just being around the team,” Mosley said after Friday’s practice. “I think it affects (the team) a lot. Just seeing me here and that I am doing well.
“All of them have been so supportive. There’s no one in particular, just all of them showing their support for me.”
Coach Robert McCullum knows how much his players have missed their teammate, whose final year as a collegiate player was thrown into disarray.
“I think it’s mutually uplifting,” McCullum said. “It’s uplifting for the team. It really reinforces what a fighter he is — how determined he is to beat the disease. And it’s also extremely healthy for him. He loves being in this environment, and to be able to get through practice and have the energy to do that, it allows him to get himself back out here.”
As terrifying as renal cancer can be, Mosley has taken it in stride, borne the treatments, beaten the odds and still walks around with a smile on his face. And all those around him see how positive his attitude has been, and his teammates have been helping, as they started wearing a patch on their jerseys with “B-Mo,” his nickname, his number (12) and a yellow ribbon.
“He is very positive toward (his day-to-day life),” the team’s head athletic trainer, Nikki Curski said. “In the beginning, of course it’s going to make you sad, it’s going to make you upset, it’s going to make you scared, because in the beginning he was very scared, but still very positive.
“We’ve tried to put him at ease and let him know that he is going to get as much help as he is going to need and take those initial steps he needs to get well.”
Mosley added about the patches that were made in his honor, “The first time I saw them was on TV in the FIU game. And every time they came up to the free throw line, they throw this little graphic up over it, so I really couldn’t read it. But coach Mac called me on Christmas and I asked him, ‘What’s that on the jersey?’ and he said, ‘It says B-Mo,’ and when I finally saw it, I thought it was pretty neat.”
Mosley has come a long way. After transferring from Daytona Beach Community College, he accumulated 394 points in 27 games in the 2003-04 season, and McCullum was expecting great things from his point guard before being sidelined.
“I don’t know how he could’ve taken on (the cancer) any better than he has,” McCullum said. “I don’t know if he could be more determined in his effort and just the amount of progress he has made. The doctors, the staff at Moffitt, have done an outstanding job, and at the same time, you can’t help but acknowledge his will, his determination.
“Just on his own, he decided to stay the whole summer. He reported for fall practice 12 to 14 pounds heavier than what he played at last year, but also a lot stronger. So he was going to be a much better player on both ends of the floor.”
Mosley wants everyone to know not only that he’s back, but that he’s going to be back out on the court as well.
“I just try to think of (getting better) in my own way,” Mosley said. “Just stay positive and just know that I can beat (the cancer). If (Lance Armstrong) can do it, then so can I. He’s been an inspiration to me. As long as you have faith in yourself that you can do anything, that’s basically my motivation. Just to beat the odds. Now I’m beating the odds, and just believing every day that I can beat this thing.
“What really keeps me going is that I really want to play again. That’s really my main motivation for me. Everyday I just try to get a step closer to getting back on the court. I really miss (playing). I shot around a little today, but the only part I don’t miss is the conditioning part. I don’t miss the running part.”
So as the men’s basketball team continues to try to fight its way into the postseason, Mosley will continue his fight with renal cancer. He wants everyone to know that his name is Bradley Mosley, that he’s back and that he’s here to stay.