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Thirteen year-old cancer patient and friend of Bryce Harper passed away yesterday

Jul 31, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Bryce Harper Getty Getty Images

Back on July 5, Bryce Harper met with 13 year-old fan Gavin Rupp, who had recently been diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. It was more than your typical athlete/young fan photo opp, as Harper and Rupp spent over an hour together talking and exchanging gifts. Harper dedicated his Stand Up Against Cancer plaque during the Home Run Derby to Rupp, and was clearly affected by their meeting. And Rupp and his family were clearly happy and moved as well.

This news, however inevitable was, is nonetheless sad:

Gavin Rupp, the hospice patient who threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park earlier this season, died Tuesday afternoon after a three-year fight with brain cancer, a Nationals spokeswoman confirmed. He was 13.

Harper took to Twitter last night:



RIP, Gavin. And F-you, cancer.

  1. shawon0meter - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    Seems like it happened so fast 😦 I feel terrible for his family

    • Old Gator - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:18 AM

      It really does. It was only a few weeks ago. But compared to the way I’ve seen and heard of others dying from this wretched form of cancer – seizures, blindness, horrible headaches, loss of all kinds of bodily functions – Gavin’s passing was comparatively quick and merciful. RIP kid. You were, indeed, a warrior.

      • patsandsox - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        so sad

      • fanofevilempire - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        RIP Kid, the good die young…….

      • bigmeechy74 - Jul 31, 2013 at 6:33 PM

        He didn’t play for golden state dude

    • paperlions - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      He apparently survived 3 years after diagnosis. For any kind of brain cancer, that is far longer than average. Still very sad and unfortunate, but he put up a good long fight.

  2. southpaw2k - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    And just like that, my respect for Bryce Harper as a man went far beyond my respect for his baseball skills.

    *BLEEP* you, cancer.

  3. spellingcops - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Condolences to the family. No parent should ever outlive their kid.

  4. largebill - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:38 AM

    “*BLEEP* you, cancer.” On that I assume we can all agree.

    I’m sure there will be reason for people to knock Harper again in the future, but I don’t want to hear it for a long time after reading this. For all the crap said about him after the SI cover at 16 he has shown a hell of a lot more more maturity than I remember myself being capable of at that age. He clearly realizes there are things in life a lot more important than baseball.

    • jarathen - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:45 AM

      Harper has been a consummate professional in the bigs, and to be a decent human being honoring a life tragically cut short eclipses that.

  5. kane337 - Jul 31, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    RIP Gavin Rupp. Gone way too soon.

    • bdawk20 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

      Wonder who the 35 year old virgin is that is thumbs downing these comments? Did Mom not bring you your Meatloaf last night??

      Much respect to Bryce Harper here – RIP Gavin – puts our lives into perspective.

  6. mdpickles - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    Not only is Bryce an incredible talent, but he is also a polarizing human being. He gave that kid and his family a brief moment of happiness. RIP Gavin.

    • Kevin S. - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      I don’t think “polarizing” is the word you’re looking for. To tbe extent that people dislike him personally, it’s been based almost entirely upon false media narratives.

      • paperlions - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        + 12 kagillion

        Contrived narratives about spoiled or immature prospects by jealous middle aged hacks are all to common and nearly always inaccurate….seems like every city has at least one guy like this, that acts like a 20 yr old busted for under aged drinking while playing on a team of 22 yr olds is some kind of immature kid that needs to get his priorities in order and blah blah blah.

      • someguyinva - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        Echoing paperlions here, I found this bit of perspective with regard to Harper and his (supposed) immaturity….

        I’m a middle aged man, and I play golf from time to time. The golf courses I frequent tend to have refreshment carts circulating about the course, and they’re almost always driven by attractive young ladies.

        It’s no accident that they’re attractive, and they’re friendly, and they entice you to buy more drinks than you normally would, or tip more than you would, or both, because your lizard brain is working overtime, and somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind, you think “I have a chance here”. Then the cart moves on, and you move on, and your real brain takes over, and you realize that she’s young enough to be your daughter, and yeah, that’s not happening, and you content yourself with shooting bogeys on the way in, and that’s the end of it for you.

        And then, when you’re sitting there after the round with your buddies, it hits you… Bryce Harper is *younger* than that girl driving the drink cart, and people really ought to can it with the “punk” talk, because even if he was (and he’s clearly not) it wouldn’t be terribly hard to understand, given his age.

  7. riverace19 - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Breaks my heart when kids die due to things out of their control… Sometimes life is harsh. Dangit all. Harper has a big heart hope that doesn’t change.

  8. rickdobrydney - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    As a dad myself, my respect for Harper has increased exponentially after reading what he did for this boy—- Believe it or not, there are a great many things in life more important than baseball—

  9. michaeljacksonisback - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Godspeed kid, RIP… No parent should have to bury their child. My heart aches for all involved. FU%K YOU CANCER!!!!

    • indaburg - Jul 31, 2013 at 12:04 PM


      My deepest condolences to his parents. No parent should ever know this pain. Cancer can suck it.

      My utmost respect to Harper for embracing this child and his family during their time of need.

  10. cur68 - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    We’re another baseball fan down, folks. My condolences to his family, who will miss him for the rest of their lives. A hat tip to Bryce Harper for being a far better man than lots of people gave him credit for.

  11. drewsylvania - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    Those “Bryce Harper, a-hole” articles sure were off-base, weren’t they?

    Rest in peace, little guy.

    • fanofevilempire - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:55 AM

      maybe he is growing up, baseball is taken too serious sometimes.
      the other day a disaster took place Puig slid into home plate, omg!

  12. stlouis1baseball - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    Awful. And so quick. My condolences go out to his family and friends. RIP Gavin Rupp.

  13. bougin89 - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:59 AM

    Sometimes life is unfair. RIP Gavin. Feel awful for him and his family. I’m glad Harper took the time to make an impact on Gavin’s life. F cancer.

  14. smorrow66 - Jul 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Gavin’s fought the good fight and his fight is over. What a class move by Harper. And Harper is right. We need more of that attitude. F CANCER

  15. bravefan4life - Jul 31, 2013 at 11:42 AM

    Very sad…..and to those 1-2 people that think it’s funny to give the thumbs down on heartfelt responses….GO F&%K YOURSELVES! OK, now go ahead and thumbs down on my post too you pathetic POS’s!

  16. hojo20 - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    I wish the Nationals would move back to Montreal.

  17. delusionalcubsfan - Jul 31, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    So why were people trying to make out Bryce Harper to be a villain when he first was called up? Shame on you. He’s been a pro since arriving in the majors and the more I hear about him the more I respect him. Way more mature and thoughtful than I was at that age. My prayers go out to Gavin’s family.

  18. yahmule - Jul 31, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    My deepest sympathies to Gavin’s family and to his friend, Bryce Harper.

    I don’t know why people want to pretend Bryce wasn’t a very brash kid when he first gained national attention. I lived in Las Vegas during the entire period he lived there. I have a friend who had a son who played a lot of baseball with Bryce when he was a kid. Harper’s father was a real headache for everybody and some of his abrasiveness rubbed off on his sons. Not to say that they were bad kids in any way, but teenage boys can be a pain in the ass even when they aren’t being told how great they are every day of their lives.

    I think Harper deserves a lot of credit for taking a good look at the way he wants to be perceived by people. Consider the way Harper has conducted himself over the last year and contrast it to these comments he made about 18 months ago.

    “I’m going to be my own person. There are a lot of professional athletes back in the old days that did what they wanted to do. That’s how I’m going to be. I’m going to prove myself on the field, so I can be that kind of guy off the field. I’m not a clown off the field. I just say things….

    A football player I can name is Joe Namath. … He had that city life and everything like that, but he was one of the best quarterbacks to play the game. I can’t say I’m like Joe Namath….He went out, he played, but he had fun. He had a night life, he had his own place, I think it was called Bachelors III. He had his own thing that he wanted to do….He was in the style, he did all those commercials, things like that. He loved it. I think that’s huge. That’s one side of me that I like. I’m not your typical, ‘Hey, I’m going to be Johnny Good.’ You are a baseball player….I’m going to have fun off the field, too.”

    Nothing too controversial, but also not really the type of thing I expect to hear him say very often in the future. And really, nothing like his comments or actions over the past 18 months.

    Again, I really don’t get the blanket denialism and desire for revisionism over the natural maturation process of a young man.

  19. daveitsgood - Aug 1, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    Joe namath had significantly more interceptions than touchdowns. He was a slightly above average qb who built a legendary status by making a guarantee and the narrative fueled the rest.

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