Bears' Thomas surprises biggest fan

662694.png

Bears' Thomas surprises biggest fan

We live in a day and age where all you hear about are stories surrounding professional athletes getting arrested, not getting paid adequately and stirring up controversy on social media platforms and it's stories like what Bears rookie linebacker J.T. Thomas did for a child suffering from epilepsy that go unnoticed.

Anthony Grandberry, a 14-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy - a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures over a period of time - met Thomas last year at an autograph signing.

"I'll never forget how he made me feel, a player on IR who hadn't played a practice or down for the Chicago Bears, for him to want my autograph and to make me feel like a Pro Bowler that day, I've always wanted to return that feeling to Anthony. More than anything, be able to help him the best way I can," Thomas said.

After Grandberry underwent brain surgery to help stop the seizures, Thomas visited him in the hospital over the holidays. The two have stayed in touch and Thomas surprised Grandberry with Super Bowl tickets at a Chicago southside church on Saturday morning.

"I came to see my buddy Anthony today. Me and the rest of my volunteers, we drove all the way from Florida just to take my No. 1 fan to the Super Bowl this year," Thomas said.

Thomas knows firsthand how important it is to help children with special needs, having a younger brother who suffers from autism.

"I have a younger brother with autism. I know how important it is for special needs children to have the support that they need...to feel like a normal child and to be able to do the things that everybody else does."

Thomas and Anthony will make the drive from Chicago to Indianapolis to see the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium together.

What's the first thing that Anthony plans to do when he arrives in Indianapolis?

"Just watch the game."

Helping Anthony isn't the only charitable work Thomas has done in the offseason, him and six volunteers have been making visits to epilepsy centers on their drive from Florida to Chicago for the J.T. Thomas Foundation.

Fast Break Morning Update: Josh Sitton named to Pro Bowl; Blackhawks-Lightning on CSN

Fast Break Morning Update: Josh Sitton named to Pro Bowl; Blackhawks-Lightning on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

CSN will air six Cubs spring training games in 2017

Cubs' Carl Edwards Jr. looks to follow in Mariano Rivera's footsteps

NBA Buzz: With trade deadline looming, Bulls' season at a crossroads

Bears' Josh Sitton finds fourth Pro Bowl most meaningful yet

Report: Cubs preparing to roll the dice with Brett Anderson

Extra incentive fuels Tanner Kero in second stint with Blackhawks

Four top prospects among 19 players invited to White Sox big league camp

NBA Insiders Notebook: Trade rumors heating up

Five B1G-gest things: Indiana wins first game without Anunoby, Michigan 'white collar' no more

Bears' Josh Sitton finds fourth Pro Bowl most meaningful yet

Bears' Josh Sitton finds fourth Pro Bowl most meaningful yet

Sometimes the passage of time makes things a little sweeter.
 
Josh Sitton had been selected to three Pro Bowls while a member of the Green Bay Packers. At the end of training camp last year, the Packers abruptly released Sitton.
 
On Monday, Sitton was named to his fourth Pro Bowl, replacing former Green Bay teammate T.J. Lang. At age 30, this Pro Bowl was special.
 
"It's a great honor, always a goal of mine every year," Sitton said via conference call. "It's an honor to me and to the guys I play with, the guys helping me along...
 
"I would say just the age thing, the older you get, the more you appreciate them. You can't play at a high level in this game so the whole age thing makes it even more special."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]
 
When the Bears were forced to go into Week 1 of the 2015 season with a shuffled offensive line, the situation wasn't ideal; Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long moving to right tackle as a hurried fill when neither Charles Leno nor Jordan Mills were an answer.
 
The 2016 season also began with an unexpected and significant shuffle, but this time with one that immediately bumped up the quality of the line. GM Ryan Pace moved quickly to sign Sitton after his release by the Green Bay Packers, a step that bumped rookie Cody Whitehair from guard to center, where he earned All-Rookie honors from the Pro Football Writers Association of America.
 
"It was challenging for sure," Sitton said. "It was something I haven't had to do for quite some time but it was stimulating being thrown in and needing to learn the offense in four or five days."
 
Sitton, who signed a three-year contract worth as much as $21 million with $10 million guaranteed, joins rookie running back Jordan Howard as the two Bears scheduled to play in the Pro Bowl. He started 12 of 13 games in 2016, missing time with an ankle injury but being a strong presence in a line that ranked No. 8 in sack percentage while getting Howard to a franchise-record 1,313 rushing yards even with a rookie center and a group that never played a game together before Week 1 in Houston against the Texans.
 
"I think we can only get better, now that we'll have an offseason together," Sitton said. "We'll see what we can do."