CHARLOTTE - There's the return of Cam Newton to the football field, his debatable No. 12 placement in's quarterback rankings, and the Panthers all-important third preseason game approaching Thursday night.

But the best sports story in Charlotte flew way under the radar.

The Charlotte Hornets signed a contract with 28-year-old guard Julyan Stone on Wednesday. That's about as much basketball as will be discussed in this piece.

Stone's journey to the Hornets has been an emotional one.

"I wanted to cry," he told reporters on Wednesday.

Stone played briefly with the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors from 2011-14, and bounced around several NBA Development League teams.

He most recently played in Europe. Sometimes overseas contracts aren't so player-friendly.

Stone says his Turkish team didn't pay him for 8 months.

"I literally was up every night wondering how I would put food on my son's plate," Stone said.

Then there's his Italian team, which initially refused to let Stone out of his contract to sign with an NBA team in July, after he had signed an extension.

"It was part of the grind to get here," said Stone. "I've never had anything easy, I've always had to work and go the extra mile."

But now Stone is with the Hornets, in Charlotte, but more importantly in the United States.

And that's the most important part.

Stone's father, David, is severely ill, and is hospitalized in Maryland.

When Stone spoke to reporters late Wednesday morning, he had not yet told his father the good news.

"I'm going to the hospital to see him and that’s going to be amazing," said Stone. "I don’t know what else to say. I’m just excited to go see my dad right now [in Maryland] and tell him I’m going to be here."