Magic's Kyle O'Quinn Visits CHKD

Magic's Kyle O'Quinn Visits CHKDKyle O’Quinn of the Orlando Magic visited CHKD on Thursday. And to everybody’s surprise, he brought a basketball-playing friend with him.

The 6-foot-10 O’Quinn was accompanied by Old Dominion University center DeShawn Painter who stands just an inch shy of his pal, creating a super-tall duo of energy and compassion. The two visited patients in CHKD’s cancer unit and rehabilitation unit with Painter taking his cues from O’Quinn, a return visitor to Virginia’s only free-standing children’s hospital.

Painter, an NBA hopeful, found himself engaged with 16-month-old Rhyland Coventry as the two played a game of mini-basketball. Painter made a pretend hoop with his arms and Coventry shot the ball through them repeatedly.

Painter found out very fast how much a visit from a celebrity athlete can affect a young patient. As O’Quinn and Painter posed for pictures, Rhyland sprinted across the room and latched onto his leg. Painter picked up the little guy and before he knew it Rhyland had rested his head on his shoulder and was hugging the surprised Painter.

“Oh my goodness,” said Rhyland’s mom Maureen, “he doesn’t do that for just anyone. You are one of a select few.”

For O’Quinn, these trips to CHKD are becoming old hat. He walked into the room and remembered one patient from a previous visit and called him by name. Then he sat down at a table with five patients and played a round of the card game UNO, engaging his fellow players with light banter. At one point, they switched games and started playing, “Guess how tall I am.”

The guesses ranged from 6 feet 4 inches tall to 9 feet 2 inches tall. Before the pair left, the Child Life team asked the players to autograph the wall over the door jamb for laughs.

“Honestly, I would do this every day after practice if I could,” said O’Quinn, who played collegiately at Norfolk State University. “I believe it’s the humanitarian duty of all of us to do the right thing and bring joy to people’s lives. I’m the one who is blessed when I visit CHKD. They make me feel good.”

O’Quinn also visited with Ray Schrock, a 14-year-old he met in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit last year. Schrock was recovering from brain surgery to remove a tumor caused by a rare cancer called pleomorphic xanthoastrocytoma. O’Quinn was thrilled by the progress Schrock had made in the 10 months since he’d last visited CHKD and the two shared stories.

After that, O’Quinn and Painter visited the CHKD’s rehabilitation unit, sharing lunchtime laughs with patients Jay T McBay, Keegan Landgrover and Kyrah Bennette.

Jay T, nicknamed “Moneybags” by his fellow patients, had the two basketball players doubling over with laughter as they talked about a variety of things.

“I was getting on him to eat his carrots and he told me I should eat them,” O’Quinn said. “Then he said, ‘But I’m warning you, they aren’t like the ones my grandma makes.’ I couldn’t keep a straight face after that.” O’Quinn, who was drafted by Orlando last summer, just completed his first season with the Magic. Painter played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament last week, auditioning for professional scouts. The two work out together occasionally when O’Quinn is in town.

“Kyle has a gift and a presence about him with these kids,” Painter said. “This is something I want to do too. It’s a little different, visiting a children’s hospital, but it felt really good seeing their excitement. I was learning a lot of little things about interaction with the kids from him today and it’s a real blessing to have him as a friend.”

“Kyle is one of the best at this we’ve ever had,” Child Life assistant Lauren Babashanian said. “He really gets down on their level and makes the kids feel great. They all light up the minute he walks in the room.”

For O’Quinn, getting down to the level of a 5-year-old from the grand height of 6-foot-10 can be a real chore. But as he’s proven time and again, he’s got the “magic” touch.

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