A Utah boy is recounting the moment of a lifetime after his message to football star Tom Brady — and Brady’s reaction — went viral. There is something about football that Noah Reeb can’t get enough of. The highland 10-year-old plays on two different teams and loves to watch NFL games.
It’s a sport Noah leaned on heavily when he found out the worst news possible back in February. Noah had been experiencing bad migraines, and his mother Jacque Reeb knew something was wrong. “They did a couple scans and we found out that I had brain cancer,” Noah said.
Noah said he and his mom held it together, but then broke down crying in the bathroom of the doctor’s office. Jacque called Noah’s dad James to deliver the news, and James said he could hear Noah ask his mom two things: If he was going to die, and if he’d ever be able to play in the NFL. As Noah began his battle, he clung to football. One day, Noah described how James had asked him if he needed anything, like food, water, a pillow, or a blanket. “And then I said, ‘Dad, I just really need to watch Tom Brady highlights,'” Noah remembered. James explained they received an incredible amount of family support and had everything they needed to help Noah. But they also relied on football to get them through. “I just wanted to watch football,” Noah said. “It was soothing and made me feel better.”
James’ cousin is Todd Heap, who used to play for the Ravens. Heap’s wife wanted to get Brady in touch with Noah. The couple had just suffered through the loss of their own child, and James indicated how much they understood Noah’s tough situation. One day, Jacque received a video text message. It was Tom Brady. “Hey Noah! How you doing?” Brady asks in the pre-recorded message. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about you. I know you’re one of my biggest fans in Utah.”
He tells Noah he knows the 10-year-old has a great family that loves him. “I just want to let you know I’m thinking about you. I’m with you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family,” Brady says. “And hang tough — you’re going to be great. I know it. Get well soon.” “That video came at, like, one of the darkest times for him,” James said, pausing as he started to get choked up. “That video could have come a month ago. It could have come two months ago, even. But it came at a perfect alignment of need.”
And it served as Noah’s motivation to fight. “Whenever I was going through a rough time, I would think, ‘Oh, if Tom Brady thinks I can beat cancer, I can beat brain cancer,'” Noah shared. Months later, Noah received good news: The four surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation sent his cancer into remission. Noah’s parents had promised him early on that when he beat his cancer, they would take him to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game as a treat. They surprised him just a few days before the October 24 game with tickets. Noah and James flew to Tampa, where Noah made a sign that read: “TOM BRADY HELPED ME BEAT BRAIN CANCER.”
He held it up from his seat the entire game. The team began to take notice, with different members coming over in recognition. One of them got Brady’s attention. Brady walked up to Noah in an interaction captured by James and on the jumbotron. “Brady, he stands up, he grabs the hat, and he walks over to me, and he shakes my hand, and puts it on my head,” Noah recounted. Noah broke down crying. He returned to Utah, with his sign and his hat, reliving that unforgettable moment from a player and sport he loves so much. Noah now hopes Brady’s gestures, and his own fight to beat brain cancer, will help others through tough times — just like it did with him.
“I hope they just see, if they beat cancer or if they’re going through something like cancer, that it gives them at least something to lift them up,” Noah said as his eyes welled with tears. “And I just hope it helps them and lifts them up.”