Back in August, ESPN's flagship program, SportsCenter, aired a touching story about a 12-year-old lacrosse player who found inspiration to rise above bullying and depression by connecting with a groundbreaking athlete who's coming-out story was featured on ESPN 10 years earlier.
Now, the young man who found courage in his predecessor's story has become an inspirational figure himself, SportsCenter's SCFeatured reveals in a special follow-up story airing today.
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 an 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.
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. That's the story SCFeatured told in August.
In the special update to Lange's story airing on National Coming Out Day, the young man finds out what life is like on the other side of the inspiration-generator.
"I've gotten messages from random people, either asking for help or telling me how inspiring I am," Lange says of the response to his August profile.
Amid a flurry of social media messages, the Lange family has also received postcards and phone calls from people around the country grateful for the courageous example set by the 12-year-old.
"Right after I came out, I never thought that any of this would be possible, and I never thought I would be such an inspiration like this," Lange says. "But it makes me feel so good knowing that my dream of inspiring people has actually come true."
Hear from Lange and his father below, and get the full story on today's episodes of SportsCenter, starting at 7 a.m. Eastern.