Today's episode of SCFeatured on ESPN's SportsCenter is proof that visibility matters.
When 12-year-old Braeden Lange was being bullied by classmates after coming out to his friends and family this spring, he was so distraught he considered suicide.
Desperate to help, his father started scouring the internet for resources, and stumbled across a decade-old ESPN profile of out former Dartmouth College lacrosse goalie Andrew Goldstein, the first openly gay male athlete to play in any American professional sport league. What happened next was the stuff of legend.
A simple email from Lange's father to Goldstein, now a doctor and medical researcher in Los Angeles, sparked the conversation that eventually created Philadelphia's first Courage Game, a lacrosse contest intended to encourage and support gay youth while promoting equality.
Today's episode of SportsCenter's SCFeatured follows the fateful story that found a young man seeking acceptance discovering exactly that, thanks to a trailblazer who broke barriers before the young man was even alive.
After playing in his first Courage Game, Lange's reflections summarized his change of heart.
"I felt like almost unstoppable, because I had so many people standing with me, and just making me feel like I'm back to normal," the 12-year-old told ESPN. "That I still fit in. I'm still the same person."
The journalist who wrote the 2005 profile on Goldstein, which won a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding TV journalism at the time, says revisiting this particular story, with the latest development tied to Lange's journey, was a powerful experience.
"As a journalist, you're never the story," ESPN reporter Greg Garber tells The Advocate. "You don't want to intrude. And the inevitable hook of this story is that our story -- the original story from 2005 -- was the link between these two gay lacrosse players. We wouldn't have proceeded if we thought there was a great danger to Braeden. And because the family says and believes that the piece we did 10 years ago essentially saved Braeden's life, they want to return the favor. They want to put a story out there. This is the kind of piece that touches a nerve with people. I showed it to my parents and they cried, and I think a lot of people are going to have that reaction."
Watch a sneak peek of Lange and Goldstein's intertwined stories below, and see the whole story for yourself today on SportsCenter's SCFeatured, beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern.