Having moved from the NFL to the MiLB, footballer-turned-baseballer Tim Tebow has proved to be one of America’s most versatile sportsmen. And the gratitude he publicly shows to his army of admirers suggests he’s also one of the kindest. Here’s a look at how the 30-year-old star made one young autistic fan’s dreams come true.
Born in Manila in the Philippines in 1987, Tim Tebow and his family upped sticks to Jacksonville, Florida, when he was three. Tebrow was taught at home by his parents, but still turned out for the nearby Allen D. Nease High School football team. He subsequently won a state title with the Nease Panthers in his senior season, alongside All-State honors and the crowns of Florida’s Mr. Football and Player of the Year.
Tebow’s early success continued when he landed an athletic scholarship at the University of Florida. While playing for the Florida Gators, the quarterback became the Heisman Trophy’s first ever sophomore winner. By the time his college career came to an end he’d broken all-time Southeastern Conference records in total rushing touchdowns and career passing efficiency.
Tebow was subsequently drafted by NFL team the Denver Broncos in the 2010 first round, making the starting line-up for his rookie season’s final three games. By the sixth game of the following season, he’d established himself as the Broncos’ regular quarterback. However, Tebow’s tendency to fumble the ball and questionable passing ability prompted many to wonder whether he was worth his place in the team.
The New York Jets signed Tebow from the Broncos during the 2012 offseason. However, he struggled to make an impact there and was released a year later. Tebow also suffered similarly disappointing spells with the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. As a result, Tebow became the first ever quarterback aged below 30 to never start another playoff game having previously won one.
Tebow surprised everyone in 2016 when he announced plans to move from football to baseball. The sportsman subsequently signed for the New York Mets on a minor league contact. He’s since been assigned to the Arizona Fall League’s Scottsdale Scorpions, the Class A South Atlantic League’s Columbia Fireflies and the Class A-Advanced Florida State League’s St. Lucie Mets.
The sports star has become just as renowned for his religious beliefs as his sporting prowess. A committed Christian, Tebow regularly preaches his faith in schools, prisons and youth groups. He’s also a group leader for controversial organization, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and is a strong advocate for abstinence until marriage.
Meanwhile, Tebow is also a keen philanthropist. While studying at the University of Florida he helped to raise funds for a Filippino orphanage, a pediatric cancer center and underprivileged children. In 2010 he launched an eponymous foundation and three years later the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, crowned him a Great Floridian for his significant contributions to the area’s welfare.
And Tebow lived up to his good-guy reputation in July 2017 during a baseball game at Charlotte Sports Park. The then 29-year-old was playing for the St. Lucie Mets against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. As he was in the on-deck circle warming up his swing, he spotted a young fan beckoning him over.
The young fan in question was Seth Bosch, a nine-year-old with high-functioning autism. Seth also suffers from a genetic condition known as neurofibromatosis in which the nerve tissue develops tumors. As a result, the youngster finds it difficult to participate in his favorite sports.
Seth had been watching his hero in action with his parents behind the home plate close to the New York Mets’ on-deck circle. Following a short delay caused by the Stone Crabs having a group huddle on the pitching mound, the youngster seized his opportunity. And after spotting Seth gesturing to him, Tebow responded in heartwarming fashion.
Indeed, the former NFL quarterback offered Seth his hand through the protective netting, leaving the youngster in tears of joy. Thankfully, the moment was captured on camera by Seth’s mother Ileanna. The footage became a viral sensation when it was uploaded online several days later.
What’s more, the handshake proved to be something of a good luck charm. Just moments later Tebow made his way to the plate where he struck a three-run homer. As a result, the St. Lucie Mets ran out 10-3 victors over the Stone Crabs.
Meanwhile, Seth wasn’t the only member of his family who struggled to contain their emotions. His mother Ileanna told the Tampa Bay Times, “When Seth came back to his seat, he was crying. And then Tim hit the homer. I started crying, too. How does that happen? I think God brought Seth and Tim together.”
In an interview with CBN News Ileanna expanded on her belief in divine intervention. Referring to the moment her son decided to try to attract Tebow’s attention, she said, “The Lord pressed onto my heart and said ‘with man things are impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ And he just pressed that scripture upon my heart, Matthew 19:26.”
Ileanna also revealed just how much effort her son had put in to get Tebow’s attention. “Seth had been trying to reach out to Tim for like two and a half hours,” she said. “And every time he’d kind of get close he would be intercepted by somebody at the stadium and would guide him back to his seat.”
“We had gone down to guest services to find out if there was a way for Tebow to meet Seth,” Ileanna added. “And they told me that pretty much it was impossible because it was the bottom of the 7th inning and that’s something that had to be pre-planned.” But Seth proved that persistence pays off.
And the through-the-netting handshake wasn’t the end of Seth and his idol’s interaction. Proving once again what a nice guy he is, Tebow also arranged a private meeting with the youngster and his family after the game. The pair then posed for several photos which also found their way online.
Ileanna told CBN News just how grateful she was to Tebow. “If more athletes and more people of his stature would just reach out to special needs kids and just to people in general, it really just says a lot about who he is as a person, who he is as a Christian, who he is as a man,” she said. “He’s been wonderful.”
Meanwhile, Tebow’s run of good form has continued since the meeting. The star was invited to major league camp by the Mets in January 2018. He then enjoyed a promotion to the Eastern League’s Binghamton Rumble Ponies with whom he hit a debut home run. Tebow was also selected for the Eastern League All-Star Game as a designated hitter in July later that year.