Three years ago, sitting in his hospital bed, Tyler Smith couldn’€™t take any more.

Tyler Smith decided to skip the tears and focus on fighting cancer. (Courtesy the Smith family)

Falmouth’s Tyler Smith decided to skip the tears and focus on his fight against cancer. (Courtesy the Smith family)

The 10-year-old from Falmouth, the kid with a permanent smile on his face, knew the drill. His friends and loved ones would enter his room. Since he’€™d lost his hair due to the chemotherapy, he would see the sadness in their eyes. Tyler knew the term ‘€œleukemia’€ instantly frightened everyone. He’€™d see the tears well up, and you can be certain he knew what was coming next.

‘€œEveryone who visited would say how sad it was that I was sick, and then they would start to cry,’€ Tyler explained. ‘€œPretty much everyone was crying.’€

Everyone cried, with one notable exception. Tyler Smith chose not to shed tears about his cancer. He decided to beat it.

‘€œYou can’€™t avoid cancer once you have it,’€ he said. ‘€œIt’€™s either fight or die.’€

Tyler decided to make a new rule. If anyone wanted to visit him, there was absolutely no crying.

‘€œI’€™m a hockey player, and hockey players don’€™t cry,’€ he said.

* * *

Cancer was not — and still isn’€™t — a death sentence for Tyler. Now 13, with a full head of bushy brown hair, he actually credits the disease with helping make him a better person. Thanks to the cancer, he says, he is a much more sensitive person.

‘€œBefore this all happened, cancer didn’€™t mean anything to me,’€ he said. ‘€œNow it means something.’€

Tyler was diagnosed in July 2011 with acute lymphoma leukemia (ALL), which is a cancer that starts from white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Just as the word ‘€œacute’€ would indicate, the disease progresses at a rapid speed. ALL will kill if not treated quickly.

In this case, the cancer was not immediately diagnosed. Tyler and his family moved from Cape Cod to North Carolina in March of 2011. Before the Smith family finished unpacking, Tyler was suffering from extreme fevers, ones that reached as high as 105 degrees. His parents took him to the doctor but were told he had a virus or the flu. The fevers disappeared but always returned.

‘€œWhen we came back to the Cape for the Fourth of July, Tyler got sick again,’€ said Brian Smith, Tyler’€™s father. ‘€œWe were boating at the time, and he had such little strength that he couldn’€™t even get out of the boat.’€

Tyler’€™s parents took him to the pediatrician he had seen since the day he was born, but the doctor was hesitant to say anything specific was wrong. Tyler’€™s mother, Paula, was heartbroken that her son was in pain. She decided to take matters into her own hands.

‘€œThere’€™s something wrong,’€ she said to the doctor. ‘€œYou told me to trust my instincts as mother, and I want you to do blood work to find out what’€™s not right.’€

A mother’€™s instinct drove the doctor to do more testing. A mother’€™s instinct kept her son alive.

Four hours later, the results came back.

‘€œWe were told to go immediately to Children’€™s Hospital,’€ Brian said. ‘€œAnd that they were expecting us.’€

That was on July 25, and the next four days were spent doing all kinds of testing on Tyler. Doctors finally decided to take a bone marrow sample on July 30.

Late that evening, Brian and Paula Smith were in a room with a team of doctors. Their son, they were told, was very sick. He would start chemotherapy the next day.

‘€œAs a parent, to hear your child is sick, it is just so devastating,’€ Brian said. ‘€œCancer is one of those things that isn’€™t supposed to happen to your family.’€

The Smith family sold their house in North Carolina and returned home. They were about to fight the biggest battle of their lives.

‘€œIt’€™s something that happens to other people,’€ Brian said. ‘€œYou see the Jimmy Fund on television, you donate, and that’€™s all that cancer meant to us. After learning Tyler was sick, it becomes a very scary, life-changing reality where nothing else matters other than curing your son.’€

* * *

Baseball is a walk of life. Everything done in the game is done in life. Everything done in life is done in the game. When Tyler watched Dustin Pedroia play baseball, he instantly connected with the Red Sox second baseman.

Tyler met Dustin Pedroia during a visit to spring training and has maintained a friendship with the Red Sox star. (Courtesy the Smith family)

Tyler met Dustin Pedroia during a visit to spring training and has maintained a friendship with the Red Sox star. (Courtesy the Smith family)

‘€œPedroia’€™s always willing to get dirty to make a play,’€ Tyler said. ‘€œHe’€™s the one diving and jumping. He’€™s always been my favorite player.’€

Smith flew to Fort Myers, Florida, during spring training with a group from the Jimmy Fund. The yearly trip is funded by proceeds from the annual Tame the Tigers golf tournament, organized by WEEI morning host John Dennis.

‘€œYou understand these kids are going through a tough time,’€ Pedroia said. ‘€œAll you want to do is bring them any kind of happiness and joy.’€

Tyler knew this was his chance to meet — and perhaps form a friendship — with Pedroia.

‘€œYou’€™d never think you could meet your favorite baseball player and be friends with him,’€ Tyler said. ‘€œMeeting him was amazing.’€

Pedroia was a gracious host in Florida, and he hosted Smith at Fenway before last Thursday’s game against the Astros.

‘€œAs a Red Sox player, there is a responsibility to be involved and see the kids as much as you can,” Pedroia said. “They come to spring training, they make visits to the field, and those are the times where you can reach out and get to know them and hopefully make an impact in a positive way.’€

Pedroia left a lasting impression on Tyler.

‘€œSometimes I imagine making the same plays that he makes,’€ Tyler said. ‘€œIf I were playing, I’€™d make them the exact same way.’€

Pedroia’€™s willingness to help the team is a trait Tyler always admired, so he decided he’€™d also be a team player. Instead of doing it on the field, he would help his teammates in the hospital.

‘€œTyler saw kids at the Jimmy Fund clinic who were sick, and some were even sicker than him,’€ Brian said. ‘€œHe recognized that, and he’€™s able to sympathize with those kids.’€

Tyler would go room to room and speak with the other children. He would share his story of what it is like to be in the hospital.

‘€œI’€™m still friends with one of the girls I visited,’€ he said. ‘€œShe was much younger than me and really nervous about getting the pick in her arm. I showed her mine and we talked about it.’€

Just liked Pedroia is working with his team on the field, Tyler is doing whatever he can to help ease someone’€™s pain.

‘€œIf I tell my story,’€ he said, ‘€œmaybe there will be one kid in the hospital who will be a little less scared.’€

* * *

Tyler Smith is ready to show the world what is possible after conquering cancer.

He has delivered PowerPoint presentations about leukemia to the students at his school. He’€™s also helped raise over $13,000 over the last two years by collecting change at his middle school with fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

‘€œIt’€™s unbelievable,’€ Pedroia said. ‘€œIt shows that, through adversity, there is a young kid who’€™s been able to overcome and fight through the toughest of times. We look up to these kids like Tyler. They’€™re the real heroes.’€

Tyler even returned to the ice. In a moment that will forever remain etched in his father’€™s memory, he laced up his skates in October of 2011 and rejoined his youth hockey team.

‘€œThis fragile little kid, who weighed all of 60 pounds because he lost all body mass from the chemotherapy, was back on the ice smiling,’€ his father said.

Tyler’€™s mother was so overwhelmed with emotion she needed to leave the rink.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t about hockey anymore,’€ his father said. ‘€œHe was living again.’€

The moment Tyler put on his skates was a turning point, the day he went from treatment to recovery.

‘€œI felt pretty confident,’€ Tyler recalled. ‘€œI knew I was ready. I wasn’€™t really aware that my mom was freaking out until after practice. I asked her afterward, ‘€˜Why are you freaking out? I’€™m totally fine.’€™ ‘€

Thankfully for the Smith family, Tyler is totally fine. This past July 31 marked the third year since he was diagnosed, and he is on schedule to enter the seventh grade this fall.

‘€œI have a new appreciation for life,’€ Tyler said. ‘€œAnd I know you can never quit.’€

Blog Author: 
Justin Barrasso

Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Angels at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Mets at Athletics, 3:30 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Padres at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: World Series, South Korea vs. Japan, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: World Series, Nevada vs. Pennsylvania, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)


– The Jets won Saturday night’s preseason game over the Bengals, 25-17, but the Cincinnati coaching staff wasn’t pleased with the strategy New York used.

Jets coach Rex Ryan had his team employ a variety of blitzes against the Bengals backups after Cincy starting quarterback Andy Dalton lit up New York’s struggling secondary, going 8-for-8 for 144 yards and a touchdown, with a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

“Notice he didn’t bring that stuff when our starters were out there,” Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander said (via “We’d have scored quicker. If he wants to put his starting defense out there and blitz all that garbage against our third-stringers, if he feels good about it, then all the power to him.”

Said Bengals backup quarterback Jason Campbell (who was inactive, leaving third-stringer QB Matt Scott to deal with the blitzing): “Some of it was a little extreme. I remember back in the day, preseason games you didn’t see any blitzes. Everyone was so vanilla all the way to the regular season. Now it’s a different day and age and teams really just throw it all out there.”

Ryan brushed off the comments.

“I don’t know why they’d be shocked,” he said. “I don’t worry about their team.”

– Former punter Chris Kluwe, who accused the Vikings of releasing him after the 2012 season because he was a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, reached a settlement with the club Tuesday to avoid a lawsuit.

Kluwe will not receive any money, but the Vikings will donate to five gay rights-related charities over the next five years.

“This will help a lot of people that really do need that help,” Kluwe said at a press conference, adding that team owners Zygi and Mark Wilf “want to make this a reality where there is no discrimination in sports, there is no homophobia.”

The team also will require all employees to undergo sensitivity training four teams per year. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer already was ordered to attend training and serve a three-game suspension for insensitive comments he made to Kluwe.

“In regards to this matter, our focus remains on maintaining a culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and creating the best workplace environment for our players, coaches and staff,” Zygi Wilf said in a statement.

– A decade after then-Canucks player Todd Bertuzzi attacked Avalanche rookie Steve Moore from behind and caused him to hit his face on the ice and suffer a concussion and fractured vertebrae, the two sides reached a settlement regarding Moore’s lawsuit. A trial had been set for Sept. 8 in the multimillion-dollar case.

Bertuzzi’s lawyer confirmed the settlement but said the terms are confidential.

Moore, who played at Harvard, alleged that the Canucks had put a bounty on him as revenge for his hit that injured Canucks captain Markus Naslund in a game the previous month. Moore never fully recovered from his injuries and did not play again. He said earlier this year he still has headaches and low energy.

Bertuzzi, who played for the Red Wings last season, was suspended for the rest of the 2003-04 regular season and playoffs after the March 8 incident. He also served one year of probation and 80 hours of community service after pleading guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 20, 1967, in one of the more memorable days during the Impossible Dream season, the Red Sox swept a doubleheader from the Angels, winning Game 2 by a 9-8 score after trailing 8-0. Which clutch-hitting Red Sox infielder hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth inning?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ve been asked this question a few times: What’s more challenging, this or last October? It’s always now. This is always more challenging because it’s the one that’s here and now. We felt we had a good offensive team, so that was challenging and frustrating at the same time. You’re looking for ways to try to figure it out and what you can do differently. We’re all wired differently to think, ‘What could I do differently?’ ” – Red Sox manager John Farrell, on the struggles of this year’s team

STAT OF THE DAY: 4 1/2 – Hours of rain delays during Tuesday night’s Giants-Cubs game, which finally was called at 1:16 a.m. after 4 1/2 innings, with the Cubs taking a 2-0 victory — following some struggles from the Wrigley Field grounds crew

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun leaps over the bullpen wall to take a home run away from Red Sox batter Brock Holt.

Giancarlo Stanton wins the game for the Marlins with an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Rangers.

The Cardinals walk off against the Reds when John Jay is hit by a J.J. Hoover pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Announcer Bob Costas gets a second first pitch after he throws wide and Cardinals catcher A.J. Pierzynski can’t haul it in.


SOOTHING SOUNDS: The late Isaac Hayes was born on this day in 1942.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Oklahoma suspended freshman running back Joe Mixon for the season Monday after he pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault.

One of the nation’s top recruits, Mixon is accused of knocking a woman unconscious with a punch and breaking several bones in her face last month.

“That’s not something I’m going to delve into right now, because it leads to further questions in that regard, and I’m going to talk about the guys that are eligible to play right now,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Monday.

The university said in a release Monday that Mixon may continue as a student and may be eligible for financial aid.

“As the university has demonstrated in the past, we are committed to winning the right way,” the school said in the release. “As an example to others, OU sets the highest possible standards for its student athletes, coaches and staff.”

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

The grind of training camp wasn’t enough to keep Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles out of Sunday night’s preseason game against the Panthers.

But leaving the training camp site was.

Charles slipped on a grassy slope and turned his foot while moving out of the dorms at the Chiefs’ training camp facility last Thursday, as the team was set to return to its own practice facility.

X-ray and MRI results both came back negative, but coach Andy Reid had no timetable on Charles’ return.

“He’s feeling better today. We’re optimistic about it,” Reid said Monday. “Initially there was a little concern, but he had all stuff done to it and everything is clear.”

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his right shoulder in practice Monday and could miss the upcoming season, according to a report by The Columbus Dispatch.

The potential loss of Miller would be a crushing one for the No. 5 Buckeyes. The senior is a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and was considered a top candidate for the Heisman Trophy this season.

Miller missed spring practice after receiving “minor, outpatient surgery” on his throwing shoulder. He had been held out of a scrimmage and a few practices through August training camp due to some soreness in the shoulder, but said he felt healthy.

If Miller can’t go, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett would likely get the start in the season opener Aug. 30 against Navy.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett tore the ACL in his right knee during practice Monday and will undergo season-ending surgery.

Dockett was hurt in an 11-on-11 drill. He originally limped away but had to be helped onto a cart.

Dockett’s injury is a particularly big blow for an Arizona defense that ranked sixth in the NFL last season. The three-time Pro Bowl selection has missed just two games in 10 NFL seasons.

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas

Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Angels at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Reds at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
Little League Baseball: World Series, Canada vs. Tennessee, noon (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: World Series, Mexico vs. Venezuela, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Little League Baseball: World Series, Texas vs. Illinois, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Arsenal at Besiktas, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Supercopa de Espana, Atletico Madrid at Real Madrid, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)


– Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel lived up to his billing in Monday night’s game against Washington, drawing attention for both his play and his behavior — and neither was positive.

On a second-and-7 play late in the third quarter of Cleveland’s 24-23 loss, Manziel rolled out near the Washington sideline and threw an incompletion. As he headed back toward his huddle, he stuck out his middle finger over his right shoulder.

“I get words exchanged throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week, and I should’ve been smarter,” Manziel said. “It was a ‘Monday Night Football‘ game and cameras were probably solid on me, and I just need to be smarter about that. … It’s there, and it’s present every game, and I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play.”

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It wasn’t clear what the Washington players said to Manziel to irritate him, although earlier in the game Washington linebacker Brian Orapko twice celebrated plays by doing the money gesture that Manziel is known for.

Manziel was not penalized, but he’s likely to face a fine from the league.

“It did not sit well,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “I was informed of it after the game and it’s disappointing. Because what we talk about is being poised and being focused — that you have to be able to maintain your poise.”

Added Pettine: “That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback, that we have to keep our composure. So that’s something that we’ll obviously address with him.”

Manziel went on to throw a touchdown pass on the drive, but he finished the night just 7-of-16 for 65 yards. Starting quarterback Brian Hoyer also struggled, going 2-for-6 for 16 yards.

– When the Redskins next play on CBS, at least two analysts won’t refer to the team’s nickname.

“My very first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game,” Phil Simms, the network’s lead analyst, told The Associated Press.

Added Simms: “I never really thought about it, and then it came up and it made me think about it. There are a lot of things that can come up in a broadcast, and I am sensitive to this.”

Studio analyst Tony Dungy is taking a similar approach.

“I will personally try not to use ‘Redskins’ and refer to them as ‘Washington,’ ” the former coach said. “Personal opinion for me, not the network.”

Other analysts including Boomer Esiason and Troy Aikman said they will continue to use the nickname, while lead play-by-play caller Jim Nantz said it’s “not my job to take a stance.”

– New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer made his presence known during a rally for the team Monday to celebrate the change at the top.

Ballmer high-fived and chest-bumped fans as he walked to the stage at Staples Center to join coach Doc Rivers and players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, among others, and he threw his hands in the air to fire up the crowd before taking the microphone.

“We’re looking forward,” he said. “Everything is about looking forward.”

Ballmer spent a record $2 billion to buy the team previously owned by Donald Sterling, who was banned by the league after being taped making racist comments.

“We’re going to be bold. Bold means taking chances,” Ballmer said. “We’re going to be optimistic. We’re going to be hard-core. Nothing gets in our way, boom! The hard-core Clippers, that’s us.”

Said Griffin afterward: “When he came through the crowd, I literally had goose bumps. I don’t know if there’s one good word to describe him. I know all our guys are excited about the energy he brings. It’s completely different.”

Added Rivers: “I love energy. You get caught up in that and that’s good. That was great for our fans.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Aug. 19, 1921, which baseball legend recorded his 3,000th hit against the Red Sox?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I was just disappointed in myself, not necessarily about the move, because if you play better, then they won’€™t send you down. It’€™s one of those things where, you get the news and you just move on.” Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., on being sent to the minors Monday

STAT OF THE DAY: 1-for-14 – The Red Sox’ batting line with runners in scoring position in Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Angels

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Adam LaRoche gives the Nationals their third straight walkoff win with his 11th-inning home run to beat the Diamondbacks.

Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis leaps at the fence to rob White Sox batter Conor Gillaspie.

Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik puts on a show after being ejected from Sunday’s game against the Salem (Va.) Red Sox, sliding into home and then removing his jersey and cleats and neatly leaving them on the plate.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy visit Jimmy Fallon to play a game in which they chip golf balls at glass pictures of themselves.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Tigers outfielder Ty Cobb, who would finish his career with 4,189 hits

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Former Deep Purple lead singer Ian Gillan was born on this day in 1945.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar
We sit down with the head coach on a Patriots Monday and discuss training camp progression, the officials, and much more with Bill Belichick.