Peter Kwon's returns to the soccer field were journeys harrowed by multiple medical dramas.
First, doctors discovered cancer in Kwon's left arm.
The disease-ridden bone was removed and replaced with the bone of a cadaver.
Second, Kwon suffered problems with his heart, destroyed by chemotherapy treatments. It stopped beating around Thanksgiving 2003.
Then there was the wait for a new heart and the visits from friends and coaches in a Florida hospital.
Kwon, 16, was a star in Columbia County's Patriots Select soccer program.
In the hospital, Kwon wore his Patriots soccer uniform on the treadmill while he carried a suitcase that pumped his blood while he waited for a new heart.
Then there was the transplant in March 2004. A year later, Kwon was cleared to play soccer again.
That should have been the warm and fuzzy end to Kwon's saga, but the cadaver bone proved problematic.
Kwon's muscles outgrew the dead bone, and it sustained a stress fracture. A metal rod replaced the bone.
There was no more soccer for Kwon after that, until this year.
Kwon, nicknamed Rocket, sat on the bench during much of Lakeside High School's junior varsity team's final game on March 26.
When he entered the game, he was fouled in the box with the clock reading 00:32. His penalty kick deflected off the keeper's hands and into the right side of the net. The goal was his fourth of the season.
As he bounced back to the bench, he was jokingly admonished by Lakeside coach Dave Morgan, who heads the Panthers varsity team and assists with JV.
"If you would get to the ball faster than they did, you wouldn't get fouled," Morgan told him.
Five years earlier, Morgan had visited Kwon in a Gainesville, Fla., hospital and he wasn't sure the boy was going to make it. The patient was unconscious.
Three days after Morgan's visit to the hospital, he received a call from a Florida area code. He thought that was it, that the boy was gone.
"Coach Morgan, what's up?" the voice asked. "It's Peter, I got a new heart."
Kenny Shugars didn't hear of Kwon's latest return until the week of the final game. He stood in front of the metal bleachers, holding a video camera, also hoping to see Kwon play.
Shugars was Kwon's Patriots coach when the player was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of childhood cancer.
He and his team also visited the boy in the hospital while Kwon, who Shugars said he considers his "other son," awaited his heart transplant.
The coach told the player he could be the Lance Armstrong of soccer.
Shugars was surprised he didn't learn earlier of Kwon's latest return. He unzipped his jacket to reveal the words "Got Rocket?" on his T-shirt at Lakeside's final game. The back read, "We do."
The shirt was worn by the Patriots during Kwon's recovery five years earlier. It included a picture of him scoring a game-winning goal.
Peter's stamina and speed, by his admission, aren't the same as before his diagnosis and procedures. Back then, Shugars thought of him as the best player in his age group and the fastest player he had seen.
At the game immediately after Kwon's diagnosis, he asked Shugars to let him play 10 minutes of each half.
When the opposing coach saw Kwon flying up and down the field, he asked Shugars why he didn't play him more.
"We just found out he has cancer," Shugars told him.
After Kwon scored his fourth and final goal of the 2008 season, Shugars called to him from the bleachers and asked him to pose for a picture.
Kwon looked over his shoulder from his seat on the bench and stuck two thumbs up.
With all he has endured, Kwon doesn't want to be remembered as the soccer player with cancer.
"I want people to not take me as a patient," he said as he walked toward the parking lot after his penalty kick goal. "But as a player who is good."
He said he wished that cancer had never found him and that he still had the skills that made Shugars regard him as a "phenom."
Those days are behind him, but not for many of his fans.
A sport utility vehicle's horn sounded as it drove past Kwon as he walked through the school's parking lot following the match.
"Go, Rocket!" the driver shouted.
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