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Major Leaguers remember the inspiration of John Challis

Big League Stew

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By now, you've probably seen the sad news that John Challis, the inspiring Pittsburgh-area teenager, lost his battle with cancer Tuesday at age 18. Over the last few months, it's likely that you were touched by Challis and his perspective, even as he was battling a disease that was surely going to take his life.

Along the way, he smacked a pinch hit for his high school baseball game, sat in John Russell's managing chair for a day and was chauffeured to Yankee Stadium by a driver named Alex Rodriguez.

I got a little teary this morning after reading through some of the tributes to John and watching the clips posted on the various websites. I'm not alone, which is why I've posted a few of the reactions that the Major Leaguers who had the privilege of meeting John had to his passing. (Also, after the jump, find a clip of John being interviewed on the YES Network during his visit to Yankee Stadium.)

Godspeed, Mr. Challis.

Alex Rodriguez: "He was a very brave boy. Very smart. He had a huge heart. I was just proud that I got to spend a whole day with him and I'm touched by the fact that he came to my apartment and spent quality time. It's something that I'll be inspired by for the rest of my life." [MLB.com]

Adam LaRoche: "It's depressing, man. It makes you realize how short life is and how unfair it can be. But I think what's cool is that, even with what he had, he chose to make the best of it and touch a lot of lives that he wouldn't have if this hadn't happened to him. He got the bad end of the deal, but he touched a lot of people. For sure, he touched the 25 people in here ... He was special to me." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

John Russell: "What John brought all of us, for the day he was with us, the courage he showed, the message he had, it's something we'll never forget. The number of lives that he touched in a short period of time is phenomenal. I think if he was sitting here today, if he could talk to us, he would say don't fret. He did all he wanted to do." [P-G]

Frank Coonelly (Pirates president): "John had every reason to complain about his situation, but he chose not to. What he did do was show unfathomable courage and great wisdom for someone so young. John's body could not win the battle with cancer, but John's tremendous spirit will live on amongst all those he and his story impacted across the country." [Pirates.com]

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