MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Le’Brian Perez had a lot to look forward to entering his senior season at Midland High. However, he had no idea the 2022 spring game would be the final football game he ever played in.
“My sophomore year I was really excited because I finally got to play with my older brother. My younger brother when I got to my junior year, I could play with him, so it was all three of us,” said Le’Brian who played linebacker for the Bulldogs. “It was just very nice. I thought it was going to be me and my little brother playing together, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
During off-season workouts, Le’Brian felt pain in his leg. After three straight days at the hospital and getting his blood checked, he was diagnosed with leukemia on Aug. 19th, 2022.
“When they first came and told me, I was just in a room crying. Me and my mom were just crying together,” said Le’Brian.
“It was hard. It’s like I’m not hearing these words, this is not what you’re telling me,” said Le’Brian’s mother Amanda Jackson. “I had to take a minute.”
That day, Le’Brian was rushed to Dallas to immediately begin his stage one treatment, instantly changing the lives of everyone in his family.
“We have this brother group chat and he texted us and then it was like ‘I have some life-changing message’,” said Brianzai Perez, Le’Brian’s older brother. “So I called him and he tells me and then it’s just like, I froze up, like I didn’t know what to do or what to think.”
“My mom, she called me. It was like ‘We’re taking your brother to Dallas’ and then that’s when she told me that Le’Brian had cancer,” said Brylee Perez, Le’Brian’s younger brother. “Then I was just like ‘How come I can’t come?'”
After 28 days of intensive care focused on killing the cancer cells, Le’Brian and his mom came home for about a week where he attended Midland’s homecoming game leading to a special moment with his brother.
With Le’Brian wearing his jersey on the sideline, Brylee broke several tackles during a long run and found his brother on the sideline before sharing a brief moment together after the play.
“That’s the first person I’m always going to go to,” said Brylee.
“I really wanted to give him a hug, but he just kept on moving,” said a laughing Le’Brian.
As Le’Brian entered remission in the winter, the family chose to get a bone marrow transplant to keep the cancer away.
It turns out, his brother Brylee was a perfect match.
“He was just like ‘I’m basically saving your life bro.’ I was like ‘Kind of yeah, I’ll give you props,” said Le’Brian.
“I told LB I was like ‘Yeah you’re the voice, I’m the hero. Now let’s go save the day.’ And when we did the transplant, I saved the day,” said Brylee.
During stages two and three of his recovery, Le’Brian got to travel back to Midland each week.
With Le’Brian home more often, he and his family got to see firsthand the local support in his fight against cancer.
From the Midland football booster club, to their church, to the greater Midland community, the Perez family received help from all over the Permian Basin.
“Seeing a lot of support from Midland to Odessa from Permian fundraising for my brother and stuff. That’s what really showed that this city cares,” said Brianzai.
Less than a year after his cancer diagnosis, Le’Brian took the stage at graduation. He was the last 2023 graduate to hear his name called and received a standing ovation from everyone in attendance.
“I’m just proud of my boy. I’m just so proud of him,” said Amanda. “He beat high school and beat cancer. You can’t ask for nothing more.”
Le’Brian plans to attend Lubbock Christian University later this fall.
The family’s finances have changed dramatically since the diagnosis. If you’d like to help the Perez family, you can donate to their GoFundMe page. The funds will go towards help with bills at home, medical bills, travel, and Le’Brian’s college funds since was unable to receive football scholarships.