A die hard LSU fan is rooting for S. Carolina Gamecocks just thi - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

A die hard LSU fan is rooting for S. Carolina Gamecocks just this weekend

John Hawkins (Source: Family) John Hawkins (Source: Family)
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

It's the story of a family that started in Lake Charles and moved to Greenville, South Carolina.

After their move, John Hawkins was born and has always been a true sports fanatic, but at 14 years old, just as he was about to enter high school, he got some devastating news.

"I couldn't play sports anymore. I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma stage 4," said Hawkins.

The next two years were spent going through chemotherapy, radiation, losing 50 pounds and he was bedridden - meaning no school and definitely no sports. Hawkins remembers how he felt when he got the news.

"Wow. This is going to be terrible because I have to miss two years of my life basically," said Hawkins.

Even if you take an LSU fan out of Louisiana, you can't take the LSU fan part out of them. Hawkins' family kept faithful to the purple and gold.

Hawkins followed in his family's footsteps with his dream of being able to see LSU's football and baseball coaches and players. In 2010, the "Make A Wish" foundation made that dream a reality. He got to spend time with former head coach Les Miles.

"I threw the football with him at mid-field. I got to meet my favorite players, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Matheiu," said Hawkins.

LSU baseball's head coach Paul Mainieri remembers meeting him seven years ago.

"He had blood purple and gold when he came here. He had Leukemia," said Coach Mainieri.

Despite his love for the Tigers, Hawkins went to the University of South Carolina. He tried out for the baseball team as a junior but did not make it. That's where USC's Director of Baseball Operations Tyson Lusk came in.

"You hear that story and you don't expect it. You're kind of blown away at first and you have to catch your breath. John was already impressive enough," said Lusk.

There just happened to be an opening for a bullpen catcher. Hawkins took it in a heartbeat.

"Anytime a student is willing to sacrifice their collegiate experience and work for a baseball team, give up their weekends, give up their spring break, give up a lot of holidays, it means a lot but it's doublely special for John," said Lusk.

Hawkins is now cancer free &has been for the past six years. As he puts on his uniform, this weekend means more to him than he can even put into words.

"When I'm in Louisiana I am probably in one of the best moods I'm ever in. I just love this place," said Hawkins. "It might be the food, I don't know."

In the southeastern conference, his second love will take on his lifelong love and he's already met with Coach Mainieri.

"I whispered to him, 'I'm not going to tell your coach that you love LSU more than you love South Carolina' and he said, 'Well, not this weekend. I don't love LSU more than South Carolina' and I said that's a perfect answer," said Coach Mainieri.

Despite who wins the southeastern conference, Hawkins is already winning in this thing called "life."

"Always persevere no matter what you're going through, it could always be worse. Everyone has their own story they're going through and if you just give it your all all the time, then one day you'll be able to make it to where you want to be," said Hawkins.

"It’s like almost this thing has come in full circle. Now he’s healthy. He’s getting ready to graduate college. He’s a senior in college. It’s the total circle of life," said Lusk.

First pitch for the first game Friday night is at 7pm.

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