Collin Hartman has always had a special bond with his uncle, Mike Nelson. He was in second grade when his parents divorced and he moved with his mother and younger brother from Nebraska to Indianapolis.
"He took us in for a while," said Hartman, now a senior basketball standout at Cathedral High School. "He raised me. He gave me the work ethic that I have now. He didn't treat me like anybody but his own kid." So when Hartman got a call from his mother Melissa -- actually repeated calls -- during the school day about a week before Thanksgiving last year, he was concerned. His mother told him that Mike, stricken with cystic fibrosis, was headed to the hospital for a double lung transplant. It was good news: Mike's lungs were getting progressively worse and a transplant was necessary. But there was also the possibility that his body could reject the transplant. Hartman spent the duration of the 11-hour surgery at the hospital. "It really affected him," Melissa Hartman said. "Uncle Mike has always been really close to him." The surgery was a success. Mike is back to attending almost all of Cathedral's. Collin gives him a nod and smile during warmups, thankful to have him back on his familiar spot. "He means a lot to me," Hartman said. "I couldn't imagine not having him there."