CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) There’s no doubt Cam Newton has a soft spot in his heart for kids.
That was never more evident than this week when the Panthers quarterback surprised a 10-year-old boy with a serious heart condition – and got a big hug in return .
The league’s reigning league MVP visited Taylor Austin Deckard in an Atlanta children’s hospital Tuesday. Taylor was wearing Newton’s No. 2 Auburn jersey at the time.
When Newton asked him how he was doing, Taylor climbed out of bed and hugged him. During the long embrace, Newton said, ”I feel your heart. It’s going 1,000 miles an hour.”
Newton appeared touched by the moment in the video posted by Auburn. He twice said, ”Aw, man.”
Taylor initially pouted after his parents told him to turn off his tablet. Then Newton walked in saying, ”What’s going on buddy?”
Newton spoke about the encounter at his weekly press conference on Wednesday. He didn’t know what to expect when he walked into the boy’s hospital room.
”I read a lot of things about him and what he likes,” Newton said. ”Then when I go in there he hugs me. And it’s the parent touch. You can’t explain it. You can’t really explain it. My heart falls for a child in any situation. I was just there to comfort him. It was something that happened naturally.”
Newton described the boy as full of joy and full of energy, which made him sad to know that he’s battling a heart problem.
Newton said he was blown away by the strength of the boy’s family, most notably his father Timothy.
”You have a strong man who will not let his son see him bat an eye,” Newton said. ”He has all the right words to say and all the comfort to give. And the mom is just as strong as he is and they are just there for him. And it inspires me because I have kids. … When (Taylor) looked at his dad and he looked at his mom, he just knew everything was going to be all right.”
Newton has done many things through his Cam Newton Foundation since joining the Panthers in 2011, most of which revolve around helping kids.
He recently played ”Santa Cam” giving more $100,000 worth of toys to children before the holidays. He regularly holds athletic events where young kids from across the Charlotte area come to compete in fun games.
He said the meeting on Tuesday wasn’t as a publicity stunt.
”I got back to Atlanta often and look at kids who are playing in the same parks that I played in little did they know I did the same things – walk to the same stores, went to the same schools and had the same teacher,” Newton said. ”(The reason) why I’m doing what I’m doing is just to impact in a positive way. It’s for the masses of the youth. That is where my heart goes to. I try to use my influence in a positive way.”
For more NFL coverage: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL