WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- On June 5, Ian Desmond had one of his best games of the season. The Nationals shortstop -- who was selected for his first all-star game on Sunday -- walloped game-tying hits in three consecutive at-bats, leading Washington to a thrilling 7-6 extra innings victory over the New York Mets.
Following the game, Desmond was asked to describe why he has been a catalyst for clutch hitting in 2012. Desmond went on to explain his relationship with two sick youngsters.
"Before I went up for my first at-bat, I said, 'Hey, if these kids
can battle through leukemia and cancer, I can calm myself down enough to
just get a hit...just put enough concentration into that at-bat," said
"Those guys were definitely on my mind when I was up there. I thank god for putting them in my life."
One of those kids happens to be Ethan Brown, 20, who was diagnosed Neurofibromatosis type-two (NF2) four years ago. Through UnashamedAthletes.com, Desmond was connected to Brown via Twitter, sent prayers Brown's way and the two have communicated a few times a week ever since.
"We talk about general things like hobbies and baseball," Brown told me through an email exchange. "I try to be an encouragement to him by wishing him good luck when he plays games."
Since 2008, Brown has had two surgeries to remove a brain tumor, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy to avoid another surgery on a new tumor. The tumors have left Brown legally deaf. His only way of hearing is through a cochlear implant.
On Saturday, Desmond invited Brown to come see the Nats take on the Braves in Atlanta -- the latter happens to be Ethan's favorite team. Desmond left his buddy three tickets, leaving Brown ecstatic for the opportunity. He traveled two hours all the way from Liberty, South Carolina, thrilled at the chance to meet Desmond in the tunnel at Turner Field.
Through weeks of communication, Desmond found out that Brown's favorite baseball is Chipper Jones. Desmond presented Brown with a signed baseball from the Braves legend. The message on the ball read 'Ethan, God Bless and Good luck, Chipper Jones #10.' Desmond also signed some additional gear and the two posed for pictures. Brown was overwhelmed with joy.
"I am very blessed to have Desi in my life as my friend. He is a very humble guy and a very good role model. Desi takes the time to make a difference in people's lives," said Brown.
With Brown's very own life in jeopardy, just a few moments of Desmond's time has made life a little more bearable.