UConn pitcher, 5-year-old linked by cancer fights

In this Oct. 31, 2016 photo provided by the Hand family, Grayson Hand, left, poses during a Halloween gathering with UConn pitcher Ryan Radue outside Hand's home in Sturbridge, Mass. Hand, a leukemia patient, became an honorary member of the University of Connecticut baseball team in 2015, months before Radue also was diagnosed with cancer. (Hand family via AP)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — It started as a team effort to help a sick child.

Now UConn pitcher Ryan Radue says the boy from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, showed him how to approach battling cancer.

The Huskies welcomed 5-year-old leukemia patient Grayson Hand to the team as part of program called Project Impact, which links teams and seriously ill children. Grayson got to hang out with the players and be introduced at the annual alumni game with the rest of the team.

About five months later, Radue received his own cancer diagnosis. He missed the entire fall of 2015 and the 2016 season.

Ryan said there were moments of anger, exhaustion and feeling sorry for himself. But then he would think of Grayson.

He became closer with Grayson and the Hand family. Grayson’s father said the player and the boy became role models for each other.