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These two pool players were bitter rivals until one of them needed a kidney transplant

They started off on a bitter note at the pool table but as soon as one went through a renal failure, another stepped up.

These two pool players were bitter rivals until one of them needed a kidney transplant
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Russ Redhead

Sportsmanship is a beautiful thing to witness as its morales and principles is what makes sports good. Russ Redhead and James Harris Jr. possess an iconic and inspiring sportsmanship that has turned them from rivals at the pool table to lifelong friends, per Good Morning America. The duo initially started on a bitter note after Redhead lost to Harris in a game of pool. The athletes weren’t on talking terms for a bit. Redhead even criticized the player but soon apologized and made things right. “I learned over time that Harris is a really good guy," Redhead said. Things started to spiral upward from thereon.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Alexander Suhorucov
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Alexander Suhorucov

“We went to other tournaments together, we would bet on people together and stuff like that … so we started to bond [from] there,” Redhead recalled. As the duo continued to bond over competitions and other means, they became good companions for each other. Their friendship came through when Harris got COVID-19 and suffered from renal failure. "I didn't know dialysis automatically means ... renal failure, which means your kidneys are no longer working. So that means you need a transplant," Harris said. Denise, his wife, stepped up to become a donor but found out she was unfortunately not eligible.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Ketut Subiyanto
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Ketut Subiyanto

She earnestly requested for whatever help was possible, especially for that of a donor but to no avail. She met with Redhead and was able to explain the requirements to him. Something struck Redhead and he volunteered. "After she told me the things you need to be a donor, I looked at her, and I was like, 'Well, I'll do it,’” he recalled. Denise couldn’t have been more glad and without further ado, they checked the player’s eligibility only to find that he was indeed a match. Redhead and Harris were all set to take their friendship up a notch with a kidney transplant, per The Washington Post

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Armin Rimoldi
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Armin Rimoldi

“The way I was raised, when you can do something for someone, you just do it. Except for the recovery time, this wasn’t going to affect me. Do I need two kidneys when I can save a friend’s life with one?” Redhead selflessly said. Right before the transplant, the duo spent the night together indulging in a game of pool at Harris’ home. “We were playing nine balls and I’d won the first two games for 30 bucks. Russ had only 10 bucks left, so he told me he’d play the last game for a kidney,” Harris ironically said.


The surgery was successful and they both are doing well. “His kidney function before the transplant was less than 5 percent, so the phenomenal gift of a new kidney made a huge difference right away,” Richard Ugarte, the transplant nephrologist said. The duo continue to play pool as “kidney buddies for life” and surely have done everything to live up to the same. Redhead even shared a post on Facebook with updates about Harris and himself. "After over a year of testing with my health to find out if I’m healthy enough to donate my kidney, I was a direct match for James. Today he received my left kidney and is receiving it well," he wrote. "This is what the pool family does for each other."


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