Foxboro, Mass., teenager Sam Berns, subject of the HBO documentary “Life According to Sam” died Friday, according to a statement by his family. Berns, 17, who suffered from progeria, a rare genetic disease that prematurely ages its victims, was to be the honorary captain at the Patriots-Colts game on Saturday night. He has also spent time with members of the NHL’s Boston Bruins.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft posted a statement on 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.”
The Bruins hosted Progeria Awareness Night in November, with Berns as the guest of honor. Berns watched warmups from the bench, dropped the ceremonial puck and met many of the players. As a Bruins fan, Berns admitted to dropping the puck closer to captain Zdeno Chara.
“We’ve lost an amazing friend. Rest in peace, Sam,” the Bruins tweeted today.