Last November, doctors diagnosed Jeriel Rodriguez with a rare form of cancer. He spent six months in a grueling chemotherapy regimen. Doctors said he could die.
But through his treatments – five-time All Star baseball player Carlos Beltran sent messages of support. On Wednesday, Beltran stopped by in person to see Rodriguez.
“It's just a great experience that you know someone very special is praying for you and I just thank God that I'm still alive and battling this battle,” Rodriguez said.
Beltran met Rodriguez years ago in their hometown of Manati, Puerto Rico. Beltran hadn’t seen him since his diagnosis. But he wears a bracelet to every game with Rodriguez’s name. He also brought his sick friend a jersey and bat he used in a recent game.
In turn, Rodriguez presented a piece of art he made in Beltran’s honor.
“I pray for him every single night. He's a great kid,” Beltran said.
While their relationship grew out of sports, they said their love for each other has now eclipsed that of the game. Beltran said he came to visit his friend not as a star athlete but as a friend.
“My presence sometimes means a lot to people. But in our case, I don't feel that way,” Beltran said. “This is friendship.”