Tyler Trent, the Purdue superfan whose battle with bone cancer inspired the Boilermakers in their 49-20 upset of Ohio State on Saturday, has accepted an invitation to attend the Cubs’ home opener with his family as guests of pitcher Jon Lester, a cancer survivor himself.
Trent’s indomitable spirit earlier led ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt to invite him to co-host his late-night edition of “SportsCenter” on Wednesday.
Lester survived a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2006. He congratulated Trent on the ESPN appearance and extended the Wrigley Field invite early Thursday via Twitter.
“Awesome segment right here. @theTylerTrent you’re an absolute rock star!” Lester tweeted. “I know you’re a big football fan but if you’re up for it, I’d love to host you and your family for a Cubs game at Wrigley. Consider it an open invite, I look forward to shaking your hand buddy! #NVRQT”
Trent was delighted: “As a born and raised @Cubs fan this would be another dream come true! Let’s get something on the calendar! #gocubsgo”
Lester wasted little time, responding within 10 minutes.
“Consider Opening Day booked!” he tweeted. “See you then bro! You got this!”
The Cubs’ home opener is April 8 against the Pirates.
Trent, 20, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, while in high school. He has lost the use of one arm and both legs.
A Purdue sophomore, he withdrew from classes this semester to come home, where, as Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel wrote, “he is in hospice care, refusing to give cancer what it has come several times to take from him.”
The Purdue community has rallied around Trent, awarding him a degree despite his recent absences. The alumni association gave him its first Alumni Impact Award.
The football team’s captains gave Trent a game ball from their victory over Nebraska and promised him they would beat No. 2-ranked Ohio State for him Saturday.
Trent was featured in an “ESPN College GameDay” segment, predicting a Purdue victory, and attended the Buckeyes game, arriving by police escort.
Some at Ross-Ade Stadium held up “Tyler Strong” signs. A social media campaign that went viral compelled students to abandon their regular cheer denigrating rival Indiana in favor of “Cancer sucks” in his honor.
Trent joined in the Boilermakers’ postgame locker-room celebration and opened their postgame news conference.
A day later, Ryan Kerrigan, a former Boilermaker who now plays for the NFL’s Redskins, cited Trent during their 20-17 victory over the Cowboys in which his strip-sack of quarterback Dak Prescott was recovered for a late touchdown.
“(Tyler is) just a guy that’s really uplifted a lot of people, so I wanted to give a little shout-out to him let him know that I’m thinking about him,” Kerrigan said, according to ESPN. “We’re going to send him my jersey from today just to let him know that we appreciate him and we appreciate the way he’s uplifted the Purdue community.”
The invitation from Lester is just part of what Trent told ESPN’s Van Pelt has been “a whirlwind” of late.
“I don’t think there are enough words in the English language for me to properly describe the emotions and the whirlwind things have been over the last couple of days,” he said.