How White Sox Closer Liam Hendriks Struck Out Cancer
It’s pretty hard not to root for Liam Hendriks, even if you’re a Cubs fan (which is saying a lot). As a closer, he has made many important strikeouts in his career. But his most recent feat is his most impressive. Hendriks struck out his most difficult opponent yet: cancer.
As far as stories go, Hendriks’ is one for the books. After spending the last six months battling Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, undergoing rounds of chemotherapy, and having his life turned upside-down, the White Sox righty is back on the mound.
Hendriks was still receiving treatment as recently as April 3, which was his last day of chemo before his announcement that he was officially cancer free. In late April, he started rehab with the White Sox. Shortly after, he was back like he never left.
Inside Hendriks’ Battle
Obviously, it takes a strong person to beat cancer. Hendriks had to endure the pain and suffering of both the cancer itself and the harsh treatment. But he says he couldn’t have done any of it without his wife by his side.
His wife, Kristi, stayed at his bedside with him the entire time. For a 33-year-old and his wife, the diagnosis was devastating. But they didn’t let it control them.
Upon receiving his diagnosis, Hendriks said that he wouldn’t wallow or complain about how it was unfair. A disease as debilitating and relentless as cancer is not fair to anyone. Instead, Hendriks was determined to turn his diagnosis into something positive.
As I said, it’s hard not to root for Liam Hendriks, and not just because of his triumphant return. Maybe it’s because he’s one of the most fun closers to watch. Or maybe it’s because he’s one of those guys who it’s impossible not to like.
Hendriks is known for his selflessness and dedication to his community. He was a two-time nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which he described as one of the most important honors he has received. He and Kristi also founded the South Slydah Society, a meal delivery service for frontline workers and others in need. The society has donated over 1,400 meals from small businesses already.
In the two games he has pitched since his return, Hendriks is 2-0 in saves for the White Sox. He won the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award in back-to-back years (2020 and 2021). He has also been chosen as a three-time American League All-Star.
But none of these awards compare to Hendriks’ biggest feat; unlike his other awards and honors, that one was accomplished off the field. Liam Hendriks closed out cancer, and now every pitch seems a little bit sweeter.
Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images