(ESPN) — His birth certificate says 16. His face says 80. His body size says 6. His mind says 35. His medical diagnosis says, “Failure to thrive,” but that’s a lie. Few people you’ll ever meet thrive like Sam Berns. Ask Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. “I get to meet a lot of people in my life,” Kraft says. “But I’ve never met anyone quite like Sam. I love the kid.” Sam has progeria, which ages him at eight times the normal rate. Even though he’s a junior at Foxborough (Mass.) High School, he looks like a tiny old man. And yet he plays drums in the marching band, umps baseball games, wears his Eagle Scout badge, invents things, makes straight A’s, talks like an after-dinner speaker, and is trying to decide whether to go to MIT or Harvard in two years. Pray he lives that long. When Sam was 2, his parents were told that he probably wouldn’t make it past 13, the usual life expectancy for the one in 4 million kids born with progeria. They were told that he would be a living time lapse. His skin would wrinkle, his eyesight would fade, his hair would go, his nose would beak, his head would swell, his face would shrink and there would be nothing they could do about it. There’s no cure.
Rick Reilly gets a lot of shit around here, and everywhere for that matter, but sometimes he knocks it out of the park (although the last article of his that I loved, the one about the Redskins name, was entirely fictional. But it appears that Sam is a real person, so that’s good). This one he did just that. Awesome story about a 16 year old local kid from Foxboro who has Progeria, or I guess the Benjamin Button disease, as people call it now even though it doesn’t make sense.
Anyway give it a read. Sam’s just a 16 year old, local kid who’s had a life roughly 1000 times worse than mine and has roughly a 1000% better outlook than myself. It’s weird how it takes someone being a Pats fan to make you actually think, but I guess that’s human nature. Hard to empathize unless you can relate, but it’s not too difficult to imagine yourself as a 16 year old Pats fan excited to meet Tom Brady. It’s a little more difficult to imagine yourself impressing the likes of Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, but even though Sam got the shit end of the stick he still manages to do it. Inspiring to say the least.