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Sam Berns, fan who inspired the Patriots, dies at 17

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Sam Berns, a Foxborough teenager who became a source of inspiration within the Patriots’ locker room as he battled the rare disease progeria, has died at the age of 17.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft was moved by Sam’s story after seeing the HBO documentary Life According to Sam, which detailed his struggle with progeria, a genetic disease that causes young children to exhibit symptoms usually found only in old age. After seeing the film, Kraft invited Sam to spend time with the team, and Kraft explained that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and other players and coaches said they were inspired by Sam before this season’s game against the Falcons.

“Brady was determined to be the player of the game down in Atlanta for Sam,” Kraft told Patriots.com. “NBC gives a ball to the player who was most outstanding in the game and when I told Tom I was seeing Sam again, he pulled that game ball out of his locker, gave it to me and said, ‘I think Sam should have it.’”

Kraft also described Sam as “a good businessman” after Kraft offered to donate $16,000 to progeria research — $1,000 for each year of Sam’s life — and Sam replied that Kraft should wait until after his birthday to make it $17,000. Kraft later spearheaded a fundraising drive that raised $1.18 million for progeria research, of which $500,000 came from Kraft personally.

Sam’s parents confirmed through the Progeria Research Foundation that Sam died on Friday of complications of progeria. The Patriots have announced that Sam will be remembered with a moment of silence before tonight’s game.

Photo via Patriots.com.

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25 Responses to “Sam Berns, fan who inspired the Patriots, dies at 17”
  1. clintm10 says: Jan 11, 2014 2:47 PM

    RIP Sam. Mr Kraft and Mr Brady are true class acts.

  2. shadowcell says: Jan 11, 2014 2:50 PM

    Rest in peace, Sam.

  3. liondoc says: Jan 11, 2014 2:51 PM

    vaya con dios….

  4. nunezmc says: Jan 11, 2014 2:51 PM

    Heartbreaking. I recommend that everyone go watch Sam’s TED talk. This kid was inspiring to many. Rest in peace.

  5. jeffinvegas says: Jan 11, 2014 2:52 PM

    The patriots will surely have an angel on their side tonight.

  6. niko0063 says: Jan 11, 2014 2:52 PM

    RIP kid…you inspired more than just the patriots.

  7. bgm9876 says: Jan 11, 2014 2:53 PM

    R.I.P.

  8. thereisfootballwestofjersey says: Jan 11, 2014 2:58 PM

    It just got harder for the Colts tonight. Godspeed young man

  9. floridahawker says: Jan 11, 2014 3:03 PM

    God bless Sam and his family. Brady and Kraft, what a nice thing to do for him. I tip my hat to you.

  10. abcdjcrews says: Jan 11, 2014 3:04 PM

    Sam,
    You inspired and will continue to inspire those of us who do not know and cannot know what you have gone through. I do not know you as you stated in your film and feel like I have lost an opportunity to meet one of the reasons I continue to have faith in the human race. May your parents, comrades, and the rest of us continue to hope and contribute to find a cure to this disease. Rest in peace son. Rest in peace.

  11. ampats says: Jan 11, 2014 3:18 PM

    RIP Sam Berns

  12. bubbasmithguy says: Jan 11, 2014 3:22 PM

    R.I.P. May his family find comfort and peace during this difficult time.

  13. tim2200 says: Jan 11, 2014 3:27 PM

    Sam’s passing was unexpected. In fact Robert Kraft had invited Sam to be an honorary captain for tonight’s game. What a horrible disease. God Bless the Berns family. RIP Sam.

  14. rarjake says: Jan 11, 2014 3:28 PM

    he was definitely an inspiration to people worldwide. he will be remembered forever for his heart and fearlessness. hbo as they always do, did a great job with a documentary called ‘life according to sam’ it is worth a watch.

  15. therealraider says: Jan 11, 2014 3:52 PM

    Sam Berns constant positive outlook on life amidst difficulty and hardship should serve as an inspiration to all.

  16. 49erstim says: Jan 11, 2014 4:10 PM

    Very touching story. RIP young man.

  17. barrywhererufrom says: Jan 11, 2014 4:16 PM

    RIP Sam

  18. capegolfer says: Jan 11, 2014 4:31 PM

    In the end. It’s not the years in your life. It’s the life in your years.

  19. petehemlock says: Jan 11, 2014 4:47 PM

    liondoc, ‘vaya’? really?

  20. The League's Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Jan 11, 2014 4:54 PM

    Go Steelers!

  21. slaugin says: Jan 11, 2014 4:58 PM

    So sad, kid was an inspiration, RIP Sam… you will be missed

  22. hmmm71 says: Jan 11, 2014 6:21 PM

    Puts a lot in perspective. RIP Sam. Prayers for him and his family.

  23. tovar176 says: Jan 11, 2014 9:51 PM

    Awesome…goes to show you that there are bigger things in life than football. And to see that football remembers to help people that are less fortunate…

  24. grammapeggyb says: Jan 11, 2014 10:36 PM

    What an absolutely wonderful courageous role model. God bless you Sam for making a difference – love and prayers to your family!

  25. catquick says: Jan 12, 2014 12:03 AM

    GOD rest his soul!

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