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UT football player says meeting Campbell Co. teen changed his life

4:20 PM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
Photo by Michael Dayah.
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A Campbell County teenager who inspired thousands with her courageous battle against bone cancer was laid to rest on Tuesday.

14-year-old Katelyn Norman was buried at Bakers Ford Cemetery in LaFollette.  The community is decked out in green ribbons to show its support for Katelyn and her family.

Katelyn spent the last two years battling Osteosarcoma, a rare bone marrow cancer that affects only five out of every million kids in the U.S.  She died on Friday.

Katelyn's battle has impacted many in the East Tennessee community, including several UT football players.  Two defensive linemen went to Children's Hospital last Wednesday to meet the teen.

They were so inspired, they traveled to Jacksboro with a few more teammates on Friday to take part in a walk in her honor.

Senior defensive lineman Marlon Walls says Katelyn's strength and peace left a lasting impression on him, and changed his life.

"When I left that room I was crying my eyes out. And it wasn't because I felt sorry for her, but I felt sorry that a lot of people wasn't going to get the chance to meet her and her great personality. She had a lot of strength, man, a lot of strength. Like I said, she changed my life forever. We had an hour conversation. I told her I have a little daughter and I told her I want my daughter to be half as strong as her when she gets older. And she was just like, you'll be a great dad and God's going to bless you," said  Walls.

Walls says meeting Katelyn intimidated him at first, because he didn't know what to say to her.  But he quickly felt at ease after he met her.

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