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Her son giggles as he swipes at the ball, trying to steal it away from his father's hands. He laughs again as he races toward the hoop for a layup, and later again as he works on his post moves, using his tiny body to back his dad under the rim.

For a minute, Josh and Megan Gibson forget their worry.

That always seems to happen when a basketball is around.

Carefree moments in the driveway. Game nights in front of the TV. And, of course, the time JP Gibson — a little boy from Layton who had spent more of his life battling leukemia than not — was lifted, basketball in hand, to the rim and into a community's conscience.

"It's helped us forget about cancer for a while, " Megan Gibson said.

On Friday night, a year after JP Gibson spent a day as a member of the Utah Jazz, the 6-year-old will be back at EnergySolutions Arena to attend the team's open practice.

He will be vibrant and healthy and cancer-free since May.

And his parents will again forget to worry for a little while.

In the year since JP's storybook night went viral, he's made SportsCenter's Top 10 and appeared on "Ellen." At basketball games now, fans shout his name when they see him. They put out their hands for high-fives. They ask if they can treat him to a souvenir.

These are the perks of celebrity, and Megan Gibson jokes that she worries about her superstar's lofty expectations for what lies ahead for him.

"In his 6-year-old mind, everybody knows who he is," she said with a laugh.

The outpouring of support — the gifts, love and prayers — has been overwhelming.

"We're super grateful," Megan Gibson said. "But if we could trade it all to not have cancer, we would do it in a heartbeat."

The first signs came on a game day.

From an early age, JP loved to sit with his father and root for his old man's favorite teams. "He's never been a normal kid. He's always watched sports and paid attention to the whole game," said Josh Gibson

That game day, Super Bowl Sunday 2012, Josh and JP Gibson were rooting for the New York Giants. JP had a fever, though nobody thought much of it. Other signs followed, but they could be explained away, too.

JP would hardly eat, didn't touch chicken nuggets, pizza or even macaroni and cheese. But he played and played, so he must have been OK. He wanted to be held more often, but jealousy is normal when a family welcomes its second child. One night, the neighbors said JP looked pale. But didn't the kid with bleach-blond hair and blue eyes always look pale?

Josh and Megan searched the Internet for "my pale toddler," and winnowed their son's condition down to two options. Deep down, they knew it wasn't anemia.

When JP saw the doctors the next day, they took blood from his tiny body. His hemoglobin levels were so low they were shocked he could walk.

They couldn't believe he'd been spending hours shooting baskets on a plastic hoop.

The first nine months are the worst: steroids that plumped up his body like a miniature Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, gadgets inserted into his tiny chest, radiation that caused his hair to fall out. For two weeks, he needed to be held at all times. There were moments he lay on the floor in pain, holding his infant sister's hand for comfort.

But ever so slowly, things started to look up.

"He doesn't let anything stop him," his father said.

JP saw doctors often and rarely with a complaint. Perhaps because he was so young during the most horrific parts of his treatment, he almost never brings up bad experiences with his parents. Instead he asks about the nurses who filled up syringes like squirt guns and had a water fight with him., the balloons that filled his room and, even now, he licks his lips thinking about the cheeseburgers in the Primary Childrens cafeteria.

He talks a lot about basketball, too.

Last year, Jonathan Diaz — a Utah photographer with a vision to take sick children's dreams and turn them into storybook fairytales — learned about JP, his leukemia and his love of sports. Diaz started making calls to the Jazz.

When team officials invited JP and his family to EnergySolutions Arena last October, the Gibsons thought their son might leave with a photograph or two. The Jazz had something bigger in mind. A press release was sent out league wide announcing 5-year-old JP had been signed to a one-day contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

"We're a young team and we decided we'd go a little younger," team president Randy Rigby said during a press conference that night last October.

That night, JP shared the bench with the players he loved to watch on TV. And, in the final moments of the scrimmage, the boy checked into the game. Decked out in a custom jersey and a wristband on one arm, JP got the ball and dribbled up the floor. He slipped by point guard Danté Exum and a diving steal attempt by forward Steve Novak.

JP stepped into the paint and looked at the hoop. That's when 7-foot-1 Rudy Gobert reached down, picked up the small boy and lifted him to the rim for a dunk.

The crowd went wild.

"Anytime you can do something for kids, that's the best," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward, himself a new father, said this week as he recalled the night. "We got to give him a special moment."

Up to that point, Hayward had been the boy's favorite player.

After? No contest.

"Rudy Gobert because he lifted me up," JP said.

"As long as he's a Jazz fan, I'm good," Hayward said with a smile this week.

Since his big night, JP has wanted more than anything to be back on the court.

His parents had always told him he could play once he turned 6. But a family friend mentioned a Jr. Jazz league in Kearns that accepted younger children. The Gibsons signed him up immediately.

"Our friends are like, 'Are you crazy?'" Josh Gibson said. "I said, 'If he found out later in life that he could have played, but he didn't because we didn't want to drive to Kearns, he would be livid.'"

JP takes his game seriously. He keeps score and tracks his stats.

His best game? "One time I got to play the whole time," he said.

As a fallback, JP Gibson would be fine becoming one of the obstacle-course dynamos on "American Ninja Warrior" or Utah Jazz play-by-play man Craig Bolerjack when he grows up. But his strong preference remains to make his living in the game.

He works diligently on dribbling with either hand and he's been practicing his post moves by backing down his father.

When he completed chemotherapy on April 30, his celebratory gift was a refinished driveway and a new basketball hoop.

Standing outside her family's home on a quiet cul-de-sac with the mountains rising up to the east, Megan Gibson can hardly believe the whirlwind year her family experienced, the gifts and support the experiences they could have only dreamed of.

She's used the platform to talk to politicians and policymakers on the state and federal level, to raise awareness of childhood cancer, to raise funds for research that lags desperately behind adult cancer research.

"Now that I know," she said, "I can't not say something."

But, there's a fear inside the young mother that will never leave.

It was last month that her only son looked lethargic and flecks of red and purple dotted his skin. She feared for the worst.

"I feel like there's a monster lurking behind us all the time waiting to jump," she said a few weeks later, after the scare of a relapse had passed.

And in those moments she is especially glad for the distractions.

In the driveway, her son rested on both knees, a piece of chalk in his hand.

"What are you drawing?" she asked.

"The out of bounds line," he replied much to his mother's amusement.

When he finished, JP Gibson picked up his basketball and bounced it on the perfect ground that surrounds his new hoop.

"Let's get playing," he said.

Twitter: @tribjazz