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Former UCSB basketball player uses new book sales to help fire victims

Before playing basketball at UC Santa Barbara, JD Slajchert starred at Oak Park High School. That was where he says his life changed forever after he met a six-year-old boy with sickle-cell disease.

“This kid changed my whole perspective on life,” Slajchert said. “[He] really woke me up to the reality that others face, that they’re not as fortunate as I am.

The boy, Luc Bodden, wanted to meet JD and play basketball with him before going into a full year of isolation at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. JD then visited Luc in the hospital weekly, often reading to him behind a glass wall. Luc looked up to JD as a hero. JD said Luc hung two pictures above his hospital bed — one of Dodgers star Matt Kemp, and one of JD.

“To have someone believe in you and look up to you in that way is incredibly moving,” Slajchert said.

After JD watched his friend’s health go up and down for four years, Luc passed away in 2016 at the age of 10. Despite never writing anything of length before, writing became JD’s form of therapy, one that he kept to himself.

“Once he passed away, I told myself that I had to do everything I could to preserve his memory and keep him alive,” Slajchert said. “So originally, this book was just for me. And only when I took it to a professor of mine who I was really close with did he, in fact, tell me, ‘Hey, this is something that I think could actually help a lot of people’.”

JD began working with an editor and creative team, and his story became a published novel called MoonFlower last month. The book tells a fictional story similar to JD’s real experience of dealing with loss. But just weeks after the novel was finally published, tragedy struck again. JD and his family lost their Malibu home to the Woolsey Fire last week.

“My mom starts crying, and I’m looking at her, going ‘what’s wrong?’ and she’s pointing and saying that’s our house on tv, burning down,” Slajchert said. “And it was devastating.”

This week, JD started the #MoonFlowers4Malibu movement. JD says 100 percent of his book’s sales will go to benefit those affected by the Woolsey and Hill fires.

“Not everyone has the stability to have another home they can go to or friends that will take them in,” Slajchert said. “So I felt like the best thing I could do was give back to the community that had done so much for me.”

While JD says reading MoonFlower can help those dealing with loss, now buying a copy can do the same.

JD’s goal is to raise 15,000 dollars. He is still deciding exactly which funds will receive the proceeds from MoonFlowers4Malibu.

You can find out more information and purchase JD’s book Moonflower online at

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