Biliary Atresa Patient Jarrius Robertson Shines at the ESPYs
Introduced by WWE Superstar John Cena, and accompanied by his parents, biliary atresia patient Jarrius Robertson was one of the many highlights of the 25th annual ESPY Awards hosted by ESPN on Wednesday night.
Biliary atresia, a rare chronic disease, is the primary reason for Robertson’s small stature. He has had 14 total surgeries, including 2 transplants, and last night, just 2 months after receiving his second transplant, he became the 10th recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
Named for the late college basketball coaching legend Jim Valvano, the award annually recognizes a deserving member in the world of sports who has overcome a significant obstacle through perseverance and determination.
“Let me start by saying ‘Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up,’” Robertson said after Cena handed him his trophy. “These words by Jimmy V, I have been living by my entire life. The past few years have been a blessing for me and my family, and I have been doing things I never thought I could do before. Earning the Jimmy V award tonight is amazing.”
Those “things” Robertson mentioned include being signed to a contract by his favorite football team, the New Orleans Saints, participating in several events at NBA All-Star Weekend, and being given press credentials at WWE Wrestlemania.
His thanks included the dedicated Saints fans – better known as “Who Dat Nation” – as well as team owner Tom Benson, Saints head coach Sean Payton, WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, and, of course, his family. The impetus of his gratitude, Robertson said, was “for giving me a platform to do what I do best – Being myself.”
“My son is proof of why it’s so important to sign up to be an organ donor,” said Robertson’s father Jordy. “I just want everybody to know that there are over 100,000 people on the waiting list – And there are kids involved.”
“20-25 people die every day as they wait, in need for an organ. I used to wake up every morning and wonder if my son was going to be in that number.”
As the music hit and Robertson left the stage beside his parents, in his new suit with his latest award, all 3 stressed the same message they’ve been stressing since he first came into the public eye less than 2 years ago:
“It takes lives to save lives.”
For more information on Jarrius and other biliary atresia updates, follow Rare Disease Report on Facebook and Twitter.