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A Nice Story About A Great Kid

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One of the nicer things about this year's Duke team is the character of the team and of the individual players. It's pretty visible on the court, but at times you can see glimpses of this off the court as well.

Take the example of Sam Hodgin for example.

Sam has a much tougher road in life than most of us. Just shy of 17, he has struggled his entire brief life with Hurler's Syndrome or the devastating results thereof. He has faced challenges that are staggering and so far has overcome them like a champ: a bone marrow transplant at two which saved his life, multiple orthopedic procedures, hip replacements, endless bouts of rehab. The list goes on, but it's hard to imagine all of that happening to a 17-year-old.

Most recently, when he had adapted to his new hips, his leg crumbled.

Back to the drawing board he went, back to rehab.

Challenges aside, Sam is a typical teenager who loves sports and perhaps most of all the Blue Devils. And he is perceptive: he may be the only person who predicted that Brian Zoubek would "wind up starting and be the player of the year for Duke."

Anyway, during his last trip to the hospital, a mutual friend asked Zoubek if he would visit Sam. He agreed to, and Sam was discharged early and so the visit didn't come off.

However, Zoubek didn't forget. He arranged for Sam to get his practice jersey, and some other things which were priceless to the kid, including a very kind and inspirational letter. Zoubek of course knows something about sticking with something and overcoming physical obstacles. Not as much as Sam, but enough to write him a letter which will keep the kid going for a very long time.

He didn't have to do any of that. But he did, and he made a huge difference in the life of a guy who hasn't gotten many breaks.

So kudos to Zoubek and three cheers for Sam as he presses on, with courage and good cheer, against the odds.

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