Beating the odds

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Opp senior Jabe Thompson (left) was selected as a Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Achievement Award regional winner. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Thompson wins Bryant-Jordan award

Opp senior Jabe Thompson is a fighter.

Thompson, a Bobcat basketball and football player, was selected as a Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Achievement Award regional winner recently. He will join 96 other regional winners at the banquet and awards ceremony on April 8, at 6:30 p.m., at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel Ballroom.

“It feels good to win,” Thompson said.

The Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Program was created in 1986 by the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in conjunction with the Alabama High School Athletic Association. The achievement award is designed to reward the student-athlete who achieves beyond his or her ability, both academically and athletically, or who may have overcome some obstacle or hardship to achieve success.

Thompson’s story begins when he was a kindergartner playing soccer one day.

His mother, Billie, said Jabe had been complaining that his knees were bothering him.

After going to the doctor, Thompson was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), something he’s lived with and fought.

“He’s been a real trooper from (kindergarten) on,” Billie said. “If the doc says he can go and play, then let him go.”

While it may seem to others that he’s just an ordinary teenager playing high school sports, Thompson said he’s in constant pain.

“But I keep playing through it,” he said.

Sometimes he feels pain when he’s not playing sports, mainly in his knees and ankles, Thompson said.

Every four weeks, Thompson receives in intravenous (IV) injection of remicade, which takes about two hours to be delivered into his body.

“Thankfully, it’s only every four weeks,” Billie said. “He has to leave school. A nurse from Dothan gives him the treatment.”

An additional treatment includes a once-a-week injection of methotrexate, which he’s been taking for years.

On the basketball court, Thompson plays at center, or post position. In football, he was a defensive end.

When asked why he’s playing sports given his condition, Thompson’s answer was simple.

“I love it,” he said. “I’m not going to let this hold me back.”

Through the years of pain, Thompson said it’s his faith in God that’s helped him the most. In fact, after spending two years at LBWCC, he’s going to attend Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., to become a pastor.

“My mom had my sister (Sarah) and then had three miscarriages when they were in Samson,” Jabe said. “At a church, a pastor prophesized that they’d have me — a boy.

“(The pastor) told them I’d grow up to be a pastor,” he said. “I was born the next year and that’s really driven me, and I’ve felt that’s what I wanted to do.”

Jabe attends Green Tree Christian Fellowship Church in Andalusia.

The Opp native is the son of Billie and Steven Thompson.