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Patriots to play playoff game with heavy hearts as Sam Berns passes away

01.11.14 at 5:19 pm ET
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FOXBORO — As the Patriots take the field against the Colts to open a hopeful playoff push to Super Bowl XLVIII, they will be doing so without a teenager who brought them together in the opening month of the season.

Sam Berns, a 17-year-old who battled the disease Progeria, died Friday night. Berns was to have been the Patriots honorary game captain for their playoff contest against the Colts. The team will hold a moment of silence before the game.

Berns was a guest of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick at a September practice as they prepared to play the Atlanta Falcons.

‘€œI loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him,” Kraft said. “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.”

Progeria is a rare syndrome in children and adolescents characterized by physical signs and symptoms of premature old age. Most diagnosed with the disease do not live past the age of 20 and there is no known cure for the disease.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, nfl
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