Mass. teen who stirred NFL team, documentary, dies
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Sam Berns, a Massachusetts boy whose battle
with a rare and fatal genetic condition that accelerates the aging
process inspired the New
England Patriots players and was the subject
of an HBO documentary "Life According to Sam," has died. He was 17.
Berns of Foxborough died Friday due to complications from
Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, commonly known as progeria. The
Progeria Research Foundation announced his death.
Berns was diagnosed with progeria when he was 22 months old. His
parents later founded the nonprofit foundation after encountering a
lack of information and research on the condition whose victims live an
average of 13 years.
Patriots owner Robert
Kraft mourned Berns' death, saying he had invited
him to be the team's honorary captain for Saturday night's playoff game
and was looking forward to spending time with him and his family.
"I loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him," Kraft said in a
Kraft, after being introduced to Berns and attending the HBO premiere
of the documentary in New York in October, made a $500,000 matching
pledge to the foundation. Berns, a sports fan who was invited to a
Patriots practice that month, gave the players an impromptu
motivational speech, the Boston Globe reported.
Berns was asked to name his favorite player. He didn't have one. It
takes a team to succeed, he said.
YORK, NY - OCTOBER 8: (L-R) Robert Kraft, owner of the New England
Patriots, Ricki Lander, Dr. Scott Berns, and Sam Berns attend The New
York Premiere Of HBO's 'Life According To Sam' at HBO Theater on
October 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images
Team issued statement on Kern's passing:
Statement from New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert
Kraft on news of the passing of 17-year-old Sam Berns:
“I loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him. He was a special
young man whose inspirational story and positive outlook on life
touched my heart. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend
time with him and to get to know his incredible family. Together, they
positively impacted the lives of people around the world in their quest
to find a cure for Progeria. The HBO documentary, ‘Life According to
Sam’ shared his incredible story with a national audience. It was so
beautifully done. It made you laugh. It also made you cry. Today, it’s
the latter for all who knew Sam or learned of his story through that
documentary. Earlier this week, I had extended an invitation for Sam to
be the Patriots’ honorary captain for tonight’s playoff game. I was
looking forward to spending more time with Sam and his family. News of
his passing came as a complete surprise. It is another reminder that we
can’t take anything for granted. Be sure to give your loved ones hugs
and kisses and tell them how much you love them. My heart aches for his
parents, Scott and Leslie, his aunt Audrey and the rest of Sam’s
extended family. Words cannot express the sadness or the depth of
sympathy I feel for them today.”
ESPN posted a video of Sam meeting with the team earler this fall.