Hometown: Norwalk, CA Game: UCLA vs. Cincinnati
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If 13-year-old Nathan has some free time, you can be sure to find him on a basketball court or watching his favorite team, the Golden State Warriors, play on TV. Nathan has loved playing basketball from a very young age, but he has also faced a serious neurological disorder for most of his life.
When Nathan was 5 years old, his father passed away from epilepsy, a condition that Nathan would be diagnosed with just one year later. For several years, Nathan received medications for sudden and unpredictable seizures, but they were not working as well as hoped. In search of a more effective treatment, Nathan’s mother Johana sought help from epilepsy experts at UCLA. After being evaluated by UCLA pediatric neurosurgeons, it was determined that Nathan was a candidate for epilepsy surgery – a procedure that would remove the area of his brain connected to his seizures.
In March 2017, Nathan underwent a successful surgery and through the process became a devoted UCLA Bruins Basketball fan. Nathan has been selected as UCLA Kid Captain for his bravery and deep love of sports.
“Nathan being Kid Captain means a lot because I know how much he loves basketball and this is a big opportunity for him to express himself and go out and enjoy it,” Gongora says. “It’s probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him.”