Boy with rare illness scores point, inspires football players - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Boy with rare illness scores point, inspires football players

Tatum Smith Tatum Smith

Tatum Smith has a rare illness that's stunted his growth.

"It's the opposite of Down's Syndrome," Tatum said.

Tatum is all of 5-feet-tall and 85 pounds, but it's the heart of the teenager that astounded hundreds Friday night at the Wetumpka High School football field.

"It was amazing," Tatum said.

Since 7th grade Tatum has been the Marbury High School football team's manager. Still, the teen had a dream -- suit up and run a play before he graduates. Tatum's coach came up with a game plan and huddled with Wetumpka's head football coach Tim Perry.

"I told our players, and I was impressed with our seniors who told me 'coach, if we can we'd like for him to score,'" Perry said.

One of those players for Wetumpka was Stephano Parker, a big, stout defensive lineman for the Indians.

"Considering what he's gone through we wanted him to be happy. It made us happy," Parker said.

It all came down in the last five minutes of the game. With Wetumpka leading by more than 40 points, Marbury scored and then it was time to fulfill a dream. Wearing number 80, Tatum took the hand-off from quarterback Blake Davies for the two-point conversion! It was good for two and wonderful for memories. Tatum jogged back to the sideline where he was greeted by teammates who picked him up.

"I can't describe what it felt like to wear a Marbury football uniform," Tatum said.

"It made us all happy and to be honest, it nearly brought me to tears. I've never seen anyone who loves Marbury High School as much as Tatum Smith," Davies said.

There is another reason why what happened Friday night will a'ways remain special for Tatum – it was his birthday.

"I turned 18," Tatum said with a smile.

The touchdown and Tatum's two-point conversion certainly made no difference in the game but it made a world of difference in what mattered in the end. Score one for Tatum Smith when it comes to perseverance.

"I was so happy," Tatum said.

Marbury ended its season 1- 9 while Wetumpka advanced to the first round of the state playoffs ending the regular season record of 6-4.

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