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Real-life 'Rudy' story uplifts L.A. family

January 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
A life was changed by a generous heart and 14 steps. It's a special bond formed between a star athlete and a very sick little boy. It's the story of a real-life "Rudy."He's just 18 years old, but Rudy Favard has taken on a very grown-up responsibility. When he reached out to help this little boy and his family, he didn't realize how much his act of kindness would impact their lives and his own.

Four nights every week at 8 p.m., Rudy knocks on the Parker family's door. His arrival draws adoring squeals from Sam Parker.

Sam, 8, has cerebral palsy. He can't speak, see or walk, and spends much of the day on a cot near the kitchen of his family's home.

Rudy scoops Sam into his arms and carries him upstairs to bed.

Until a few months ago, Sam's father, Rick, handled the nighttime ritual.

"I used to look forward to holding my son, being able to take him upstairs and care for him," said Rick Parker.

Rick had major heart surgery, and climbing 14 steps carrying his 75-pound son is no longer possible.

The family asked a local high school for help. Rudy, the captain of the football team, was happy to offer his big strong arms. It turns out the linebacker's heart is even bigger.

"He sees it as he's just using up his muscles for a couple of minutes," said Rick. "We see it as we get to keep our family intact."

"Well, in all honesty I think they have more of an impact on me," said Rudy.

"Sam, once he gets picked up by Rudy, he's kicking, trying to play and yelling out and squealing."

"Helping Sam makes me feel like I'm doing something right," said Rudy.

And he's lifting the spirits of a family.

"Rudy's willing heart and his strong arms have just saved our lives, saved our family really," said Sam's mother.

Rudy puts Sam to bed four nights a week. The teenager's behavior is truly inspiring.