Gronk Inspires

Rob Gronkowski’s Jersey Gives Young Fan Hope

Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots tight end, made a young boy’s dream come true this past season, after a turbulent year in which the boy, Robbie Barnicoat suffered with problematic medical issues.

Twelve-year-old Barnicoat, a New England native who now lives in Florida, has been a lifelong Patriots fan, and always wore his Rob Gronkowski jersey with pride on game days. However, when his health took a turn, he would have never known how much that jersey would inspire him to keep going and what a crucial role it would play in his recovery. Barnicoat was diagnosed with a severe epilepsy syndrome that would cause him to seize almost daily. Because of the amount of seizures he had, doctors decided to place him into a coma in hopes that it would help improve his condition. When he woke up, doctors and his family had no idea how he would react, or if he could ever talk or see again.

In an attempt to make his hospital room more like home, his parents hung his favorite jersey, number 87, right in front of his bed. When he woke up, they heard him mutter the word ‘eight’, reading the numbers on his Gronk jersey. That’s when they knew he was able to read, see, and understand again. They continued to use the Gronk jersey every day as a major step in Robbie’s recovery.

When Robbie received brain surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital in attempt to alleviate his daily seizures, he woke up to a surprise from his favorite player, a text from Gronk that included a video of him telling Robbie, “First of all Robbie, have to tell you, really like your first name.” He then went on to say, “Best of luck out there, stay strong and keep fighting.”

Then on Week 12 of the NFL season, Robbie was invited to attend the Patriots game versus the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. He spent the tailgate with Gronkowski’s family before meeting Gronk post-game. After recreating a touchdown celebration with his football hero, he got his jersey signed, along with some cleats and took pictures with the tight end.

When asked why he liked Gronk so much, Barnicoat told ESPN, “He’s so nice and polite. He told me to keep fighting, and I did.”