- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
--ZAKKI STRUNK, 11, PHILADELPHIA
After I read that, I called Zakki's mom, Stephanie. She says from the moment Zakki wakes up to the second he's asleep, he watches, reads, talks, eats and thinks baseball. Though he's only four feet tall--Zakki hasn't grown in three years--and the steroids he has to take have blown him up to 100 pounds, he's determined to make it to the majors. Zakki even asked his doctor, quite seriously, if he'd be off the steroids by the time he gets to the bigs "in 10 years." Zakki wants to be a clean superstar.
You can't keep this kid down. He took his Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World six years ago, and he's still fighting. Zakki's ravaged by complex congenital heart disease, yet he's bent on pitching for the Phillies someday, no pretending about it. The stroke he had before he was a month old ruined half his brain and seriously impaired the left side of his body. But on the rare days when he can make it down to that field, he throws the ball so hard it hurts his older brother Hanz's hand.
Right now Zakki is sidelined because he tore a tendon and the hamstring in his right leg; he's also got a cyst in his brain, and his parents know the 11th heart surgery is coming. "The doctors don't know why he keeps surviving," Stephanie says, "but he does."
All Zakki wants is that field to be ready when he makes his big comeback. Wouldn't it be sweet if somebody in Philly fixed it for him?
After all, sometimes that chance-in-a-million comes in.
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