Editor’s note: Beginning on SportsCenter on Sunday, July 15 at 10 a.m., the “My Wish” series returns for its seventh ESPN season. NBA MVP LeBron James, New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, 2011 U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy, and Washington Capitals’ two-time Hart Trophy (MVP) winner Alexander Ovechkin are featured in sports-themed wishes granted to children through Make-A-Wish®. After the first segment airs on Sunday, the others debut on each weekday’s 3 p.m. SportsCenter, culminating on Friday, July 20. Below, we preview one of the segments airing Tuesday featuring Jackson and Donovan Troy, a 10-year-old battling sickle cell anemia, with ESPN feature producer Kris Schwartz.
Kris Schwartz is an Emmy Award-winning producer who has worked at ESPN for more than 13 years, starting with the SportsCentury programming.
Although he produces a variety of feature stories for the network, Schwartz always requests to work on the “My Wish” series. He spoke with Front Row about his experience working on this segment as Atlanta native Donovan Troy meets his hero, wide receiver DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Working on the My Wish series is the most rewarding project I have all year, because you’re truly able to make an impact for a family that is often in need of hope and encouragement,” said Schwartz.
What are some of the highlights of this particular segment, which debuts Tuesday?
After the Eagles practice, DeSean completely surprised Donovan with an invitation to go to a recording studio in downtown Philadelphia to write and record a rap song. Music producer/audio engineer Mike Jerz played a few different beats he created and Donovan selected his favorite. DeSean wrote lyrics that were Eagles-themed and pretty soon Donovan donned some headphones and hopped in the booth with DeSean to start rapping. DeSean called Donovan “Jay-Z in the booth” at one point. The music will be posted on ESPN.com.
DeSean is known for his touchdown dance. Did Donovan try the dance?
Donovan was thrilled to play catch with Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick. He didn’t drop one pass, which included a high-arcing, 25-yard strike. Donovan impressed Vick with his best DeSean touchdown dance after that catch.
This is the seventh year in the SportsCenter My Wish series, how many shows have you produced?
This is my third year producing a My Wish feature. In 2010, I produced the Travis Pastrana and Brett Lisikatos My Wish, and last year, I worked with Tim Tebow and 16-year-old Adam Hubbs. Adam has an extremely rare blood disorder and the three years leading up to the wish had been very difficult for him. During the wish, Adam needed a wheelchair and cane to get around.
But after the groundbreaking bone marrow transplant he received has proven successful, he’s dramatically improved. He no longer needs the assistance of the wheelchair or cane, the use of the left side of his body has strengthened, he’s back at school full-time and made the National Honor Society, and he’ll be getting his driver’s license in October.
Oh, and Tebow followed through on his invitation to have Adam attend a [Denver] Broncos game last season. So now, in return, Adam’s hosting a trivia night fundraiser this September and all proceeds will go to the Tim Tebow Foundation.
The DeSean Jackson “My Wish” will make its debut on “The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap” on ESPN Radio this Friday night at 10 p.m. ET.