Freeport High School’s QB watching from sidelines after quick checkup turned into cancer diagnosis

FREEPORT, Pa. — On Aug. 31, Freeport quarterback Garrett King went to the doctor for a routine checkup, but what the doctors found was anything but routine. King learned he had cancer, but he’s not letting it stop him from being a part of the Yellow Jackets this season. When he broke the news to his team, they were shocked.

“He just came in, we all got on a knee,” said King’s best friend and fellow teammate Cole Charlton. “I knew it was pretty serious when his parents started walking behind him and they looked pretty sad.”

“I was more worried about not being able to play football, you know than I was worried about cancer,” King said.

The 17-year-old had surgery just over a week ago, and rejoined his team for the first time on Thursday. He’ll be on the sidelines this season, acting in the role of a player-coach while going through treatment.

“It was scary, but the doctor let me know it’s a 99% cure rate,” King said. His doctor told him, “You’re going to be fine, it’s just going to be a process.”

His teammates are there every step of the way, showing support for the quarterback.

"We’re breaking the huddles with ‘King Strong,’” said Charlton. “We have the wristbands, the headbands, King Strong T-shirts.”

“It’s a lot. I never really expect it,” said King. “But that’s how Freeport works. It’s just one big family, one big brotherhood. They’ve been here for me since the beginning.”

Along with the outpouring of support from his team and his community, the quarterback received a special message from someone who knows exactly what he’s going through. Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon, who had the same type of cancer as King just a few years ago, sent the junior a video message of support and well wishes.

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“Something like that, a little video doesn’t seem like a big deal,” said Taillon. “If it cheers someone up, or makes them all inspired, or feel a little more comfortable going into treatment that’s the least I can do.”

“If (Taillon) he can get through it, he let me know I can get through and I’ll be throwing footballs soon enough,” said King.