It’s a purple band that sits on John Weekly’s left wrist, but it has nothing to do with style or sweat and it’s definitely not lucky.
The thin, temporary clip-on bracelet has no logo other than “UCSF,” the hospital where Weekly has been spending some afternoons and many weekend nights caring for his sick younger brother. Christopher Weekly, 15, was diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 2006 and thoughts of his battle with the disease follow John from home to school and onto the football field.
“When I’m playing, I can look down on my arm and it reminds me of him,” John Weekly said. “Sometimes I’m a little down or distracted, but I know I have to focus up and get it together because that’s what Chris wants.”
John Weekly spent his first three years of high school living with his father in Georgia and didn’t know how sick his brother was until visiting family in The City last Thanksgiving. The image of Christopher going through treatment was enough to bring the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder back to the Bay Area to finish his prep career.
“I didn’t know what the situation really was until I was here,” John Weekly said. “It was kind of scary to see him hooked up to all these machines, and once I saw that I knew I needed to be here.”
John Weekly said his brother’s health cycles come in waves, meaning he has gone through long stretches living at home and going through regular check-ups in good times, but has spent more than a month straight in the hospital when things got bad. John Weekly tries to help out when and where he can, staying overnight at the hospital to play X-Box or simply being there to listen.
“I was really surprised [when he moved out here],” Christopher Weekly said. “[It meant a lot] and he’s been doing a real good job over there.”
Christopher Weekly has become almost an honorary member of the Balboa team, attending two games (wins over Galileo and Burton), hanging out in the locker room and tossing the ball around with the Buccaneers’ players. Meanwhile, John has missed few practices and just one game this season, accompanying his family on a Caribbean Cruise provided by the Make-A-Wish Foundation this fall.
“John’s gone through so much but is still able to be a prankster and a jokester and one of the guys,” Balboa coach Keith Minor said. “He’s the kind of kid you love to coach and he’s a great football player, too.”
Weekly’s play on the field has earned him the attention of several college programs and he dreams of one day following in the footsteps of his cousin Larry Grant, a linebacker at Ohio State. For now, however, he is focused on the task at hand, as the Bucs (3-6, 2-3 Academic Athletic Association) play Mission (4-3, 2-3) today at 4 p.m. at Kezar Stadium. The winner earns a berth in the San Francisco Section playoffs, while the loser’s season ends.
“I want to make it all the way to Turkey Day and win,” Weekly said. “I don’t know that Christopher will have the chance to win one of those rings himself, but I want to get one and put it right on his finger.”