Jacob Karam set a University of Memphis record last season, completing 64.7 percent of his passes, but the Tigers quarterback’s best play may have come Monday night, on a piano at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
You’ll be hard-pressed not to get choked up watching the video below, of Karam providing the piano accompaniment for 11-year-old Breanna Bercegeay as Bercegeay belts out the lyrics to Jessie J’s "Price Tag." But what makes the moment even more touching is the story behind it.
Bercegeay was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on June 4, and the Facebook page documenting her treatment and recovery shows a vast change in her outlook over the last two months, from down and out to vibrant and hopeful once again.
Karam showed up at St. Jude on Monday, as he has several other times in the past year, according to CBSSports.com, and after helping the kids at Target House — the long-term living facility at the hospital — with a scavenger hunt, he moved over to the piano, where he sat down with Bercegeay.
"This little girl came up to me," Karam told CBSSports.com, "and somebody said she wanted to sing. She was very shy, I could tell, and she had the mask on. I asked, ‘What’s your favorite song?’ She said Price Tag. I didn’t know how it was going to go, but she started belting it out. I tried to figure it out on the key, started backing her up a little.
"She sang her heart out, and it sounded beautiful."
Karam told CBS that he played 10 or 15 songs with Bercegeay before Bercegeay’s mom, Dara Bertucci, made her leave to go eat dinner. Karam hadn’t even told the university that he was going to volunteer, and he never went out of his way to mention to Bercegeay or her family that he was a football player — except for at the end, when he invited them to come to a Memphis game.
"He didn’t tell us any of that," Bertucci told CBS. "I think that’s what touches me most about the whole night. He wasn’t there for himself. He was there for us. He was there for Bree."
At 4-8 last year, Memphis didn’t give fans much to cheer for on the field last year, but after seeing what Karam did for Breanna Bercegeay and countless other sick children at St. Jude, you can’t help but want to give him a round of applause.