Lester was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the second round of the 2002 MLB June Amateur draft and made his big-league debut in June 2006. Just months into his MLB career though, the southpaw was diagnosed with anaplastic large T-cell lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy.
The 200-game winner was able to return to the Red Sox midway through the 2007 season, though, went 4-0 down the stretch and helped Boston win its second World Series in four years by tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the Game 4 clincher.
“I was in Triple-A on a rehab assignment in Pawtucket after cancer,” Lester said, per ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “My parents were there and they were leaving that day or the next day to go home, and I told them they have to change their flight and I said, ‘I’m starting the next night in Cleveland.’ … That’s one of the top moments of my career. Seeing their faces was pretty cool. Once I got back to baseball, I tried not to take anything for granted and really appreciated being around the guys.”