New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement on the passing of Sam Berns, a 17-year-old from Foxboro, who died Friday night from a rare aging disease called Progeria.
Berns was supposed to be an honorary captain at the Patriots-Colts game tonight at Gillette Stadium, but passed away after his lifelong battle against the incurable disease.
"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."
Earlier this season Kraft invited Berns to a Patriots' practice and game after seeing the HBO documentary, Life According to Sam, which detailed his struggle with the Progeria.
In the video embedded above, you can see Sam meet with the team, where he displayed maturity and confidence beyond his years. It's no wonder Robert Kraft had the utmost respect for such a remarkable and inspiring young man.