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Saquon Barkley Featured On ESPN’s ‘My Wish’ Series

ESPN will run its 14th annual “My Wish” feature over the course of the next few days, and this year’s series was kicked off by none other than Penn State football legend Saquon Barkley.

Barkley granted the wish of a 14-year old boy named George Taylor, a massive Giants fan who hails from Cohoes, New York. Taylor’s “My Wish” segment began with him reading from a powerful letter he wrote to the star running back.

“Even though your team went through adversity and had a tough year, you always came out and did your absolute best,” the letter said. “I try to bring that attitude to my treatment.”

A lingering knee injury hampered Taylor’s freshman season with Cohoes High School’s football team. He and his family went back to the doctor’s office when the injury didn’t respond to treatment, and the diagnosis was Ewing’s Sarcoma — a rare bone cancer typically found in the leg or arm.

According to the “My Wish” feature, Taylor’s gone through 18 bouts of chemotherapy and underwent surgery to replace part of his femur with a metal rod. He drew inspiration from former Giant Mark Herzlich — a linebacker who missed his entire senior year of college football with Boston College because of a Ewing’s Sarcoma diagnosis.

ESPN showed Taylor reading What It Takes: Fighting For My Life and the Love of the Game, which is the book Herzlich authored about his bout against the rare bone cancer, before cutting to one of Cohoes football’s team meetings. The meeting’s theme was “Trust the Process,” and the coach running it mentioned Saquon Barkley as a perfect example of someone who does just that.

In true “My Wish” fashion, Barkley popped up on the screen to deliver a special video message. He shared some words of encouragement before inviting Taylor to join him at an upcoming Giants practice.

“You got to be f**king kidding me,” Taylor said as the video played.

Taylor, his father, and one of his friends were at the Giants’ practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey just a few days later. Head coach Pat Shurmur introduced Taylor to the entire team before the Giants hooked him up with coaching attire. The newly-appointed assistant running backs coach for the day met Barkley on the Giants’ practice field, and he even got some pointers on the art of coaching from No. 26.

At the end of practice, Taylor broke the team down before Barkley urged the 14-year old to put down his crutches and play catch. The star running back then gave his guest a custom Giants jersey — “the real two-six” — and tickets to an upcoming game.

ESPN’s feature ended with Taylor speaking with Mark Herzlich via FaceTime in his hospital room. Herzlich asked Taylor about his wish day and wrapped up the call with a powerful, encouraging message.

“No matter what the doctors say or what the tests show or anything, [beating Ewing’s Sarcoma]’s possible,” Herzlich said. “They know the body, but they don’t know you. You’re going to walk away from this and blow people’s mind with what you’ll be able to do.”

Barkley was the first person featured in this year’s “My Wish” series. He’ll be followed by YouTube sensation Dude Perfect, WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon, three-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, and five-time MLB All-Star Nolan Arenado. Alex Morgan, JJ Watt, and Stephen Curry are among the athletes who have been featured in past “My Wish” seasons.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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