World's Tallest Teenager Lives Football Dreams
Wait a minute. Brendan is almost 7-feet-5-inches tall -- the tallest teenager on the planet, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. And she's worried about him getting hurt?
The sad irony is it took a lot of work to get Brendan on the gridiron. His mother's concerns are more than justified. The 14-year-old eighth-grader from Ellensburg, Wash., about 100 miles east of Seattle, has health problems as formidable as his height. His body is full of tumors. His joints are enlarged. And doctors recently discovered an arrhythmia in his heart.
"I can't run anymore," he told KXLY, the ABC affiliate in Spokane."I can't be active as I used to be."
Getting those assurances was not easy, KXLY reported. Brendan's blood counts were abnormal. Doctors worried a broken bone would result in him bleeding to death. Then, surgery on his spleen got his blood counts back to normal.
Arthritis, another consequence of his height, makes it hard for him to run and jump. "There's not a whole lot he can do," his coach, Kevin Wetzel, told the TV station. "If you want him to get some action, you have to be creative."
The neat thing is that there is no middle schooler who can jump as high as Brendan can hold up his arms. So the team devised a play just for him. All he has do is go about five yards out, hold up his arms and catch a loft from the quarterback.
His teammates call it their "secret weapon."
Brendan's story caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey, and he was a guest on her show last year where she introduced him to basketball star Shaquille O'Neal. Brendan told KXLY that Shaq offered some valuable advice: "Just keep your back straight and have fun."
Brendan hasn't spent much time on the field, but he's a part of the team. That's what is important to him. He told KXLY he wants to show people he is more than just an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
"Don't think people are weird because of the way they look because I am a nice person."