SoCal student athlete who lost leg to injury gets surprise from his NFL idol

SAN DIEGO (KABC) -- A Temecula high school quarterback who lost part of his leg in a serious injury on the field got the surprise of a lifetime from his NFL idol, Drew Brees.

Alex Ruiz was living his dream as quarterback at Linfield Christian School, but a tackle last October changed everything.

"Everyone that's around me is trying to get me back on the field as fast as I can," Alex said.

When he dislocated his knee, it severed an artery, cutting off the blood flow to his leg for 11 hours. In February, the 17-year-old made the incredibly difficult decision to have his leg amputated below the knee.

"I had my good days and I had my bad days. It was just focusing more on the good days and not really thinking about what was going on. It was just more focusing on the future and what I can accomplish through this," Alex said.

Friday was one of those good days. Ruiz thought he and his family members were just attending a flag football tournament in San Diego.

"He knows nothing, he's just hanging out with some people," said Bob Babbitt the co-founder of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). It's a non-profit organization that raises money to help disabled athletes with sports prosthetics.

"In a little bit he's going to meet a guy who he's been admiring his whole life named Drew Brees. He (Alex) wears number nine, because that's what Drew Brees wears," Babbitt said.

Alex's parents kept quiet about the big secret for two months.

"Hardest secret of my life," said Shirley Ruiz, Alex's mother.

When the CAF introduced Alex at the game Friday, the teen didn't know Brees was cheering right behind him.

The Super Bowl champion quarterback then presented Alex with his first walking prosthetic leg. Alex grew up watching Brees with the Chargers.

"We are committing to you that in the fall, once you get the hang of this, and it's ready to start running and training and competing again, we're going to get you your athletic training prosthetic as well," Brees told Alex.

The teen athlete even threw a pass to Brees, surrounded by a cheering crowd.

"If there's anything above cloud nine, that's where I'm at right now," Alex said.

Brees invited Alex to the Saints-Chargers joint practice this summer.
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