Inspirational amputee gets to meet Tebow
Tim Tebow, whose on-field comebacks have intrigued the nation, met Jacob Rainey, who had part of his right leg amputated after an injury in September, before the Broncos faced the Bills on Saturday.
"I'm excited, I guess, to meet someone that famous," said Rainey, the highly rated Virginia prep quarterback who was hurt in a scrimmage. "It's nice that he can take time out of his day to help other people out. I appreciate it."
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Rainey was flown with his family to Buffalo to watch the Christmas Eve game by Tebow's Wish 15 foundation, which has brought a young fan to every Broncos game this year. Rainey's story has been inspirational and heartbreaking. Regarded as a can't-miss major-college prospect out of Woodberry Forrest School, Rainey suffered a devastating knee injury that also severed an artery in his right leg. He underwent several operations until it was finally determined doctors had no choice but to amputate part of the leg.
It's his outlook and courage facing a life-changing incident that has so inspired family, friends and teammates.
The fact that he's taken his injury in stride, not laying blame at anyone or adapting a "why me?" attitude has drawn the attention Alabama Coach Nick Saban, who sent him a red Crimson Tide jersey with the message "Keep Fighting" on it. Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews also sent him an autographed jersey.
"I don't feel that inspirational," he said. "There's no point in complaining about it. It is what it is."
On Saturday, Tebow trotted off the field and met Rainey and his family just after the Broncos finished pregame warm-ups. The Denver QB hugged Rainey's entire contingent, and the two conversed for several minutes on the sideline.
Virginia loses fourth freshman transfer
Virginia redshirt freshman forward James Johnson is planning to transfer and leave the Cavaliers' program, Coach Tony Bennett said Saturday. He is the fourth member of Bennett's first recruiting class to leave the program in the past year, joining Billy Baron, Will Regan and KT Harrell, who announced his intention to transfer on Friday. Of that first class, only Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell remain at Virginia. In a statement, Bennett said he's disappointed about the news this week that both Johnson and Harrell would be leaving, but said it's better for everyone to part ways if they feel it's best for them not to be with the program. The 6-foot-9 Johnson from Wildomar, Calif., has played in six games this season, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Report: Thunder buying out Robinson
The Oklahoma City Thunder is close to buying out guard Nate Robinson's contract and cutting the seven-year veteran, SI.com reported Saturday. Robinson is due $4.5 million in the last year of his deal.
■ The Grizzlies have swapped guard Greivis Vasquez to the New Orleans Hornets for guard/forward Quincy Pondexter in a move designed to boost their depth with Darrell Arthur out for the season.
The last word
Patrick Beilein, Bradley's director of basketball operations, was on hand Thursday night when the Braves lost 77-66 to 20th-ranked Michigan, coached by his father, John. The son said he was disappointed to lose but a little relieved, too:
"It was looking like it might've been a rough Christmas, when we were giving them a run. It'll probably be a better Christmas than if we would have beaten them, that's for sure."