Jazz Guard Ricky Rubio Puts Fame To Work In Fight Against Cancer

Nov 13, 2018, 11:21 PM | Updated: 11:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There are many athletes who use their fame and fortune to do good in the world. Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio is no different, but his cause is personal.

Ricky lost his mother to cancer.

Tona Vives passed away in May of 2016 after a 4-year battle with lung cancer. She was 56 years old.

“She was the most important person in my life,” he told KSL.

Her diagnosis was hard for Ricky to understand. Tona didn’t smoke and lived a healthy lifestyle. How could she get lung cancer?

“When everything happened I thought it was going to be easy. She never smoked so it was going to be an easy one to cure but it wasn’t,” he said.

Watching the most important person in his life suffer with cancer changed Ricky’s life.

He made a promise to his mother before she passed that he was going to try and fight that disease and raise awareness.

When Ricky moved to Utah after being traded to the Jazz, he became an ambassador for the 5 For the Fight campaign. He also discovered the work being done at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

He has donated his money and time to the institute, including visits to the lung cancer clinic at the hospital. He meets with patients and their families giving them game tickets and Jazz gear.

“It’s not easy,” he said of his visits. “There’s sometimes I say, ‘Why do I have to go to the hospital and bring back bad memories,’ but at the end of the day when I go back home and remember all the patients I can help and families that can go to a game, for an example, and have a little fun while they are going through a tough process. It fills me up.”

His visits have also been a chance to hear from the HCI Lung Disease Center team about the latest updates on their work and research.

“After seeing all the research and all the work the doctors put in it’s amazing. The real heroes are them. They are saving lives,” Rubio said.

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Jazz Guard Ricky Rubio Puts Fame To Work In Fight Against Cancer