12-year-old cancer survivor provides inspiration for Capitals during practice visit

- Sam Becker was playing hooky from school on Tuesday, but it was for a good reason.

”Teah, what a way to play hooky -- so much fun,” said Sam’s farther, Aaron.

The Washington Capitals invited the 12-year-old to experience their practice up close.

Sam’s inspirational battle against Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, has made an impression and put life into perspective for those who wear the Capitals uniform.

“I’m sure he’s went through tougher things than we can imagine, so if we can help out in any way possible, it’s great to have the opportunity to do so,” said Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. “Sam is the warrior out of us. We’re just glad that he can take part in what we do.”

Sam has been cancer-free for 16 months and it was hockey that helped him through the toughest of times.

“When I watch hockey, I get excited and it lifts my spirits and it helps keep me happy,” he said. “It helps me keep my mind off the other things. It helps me keep going.”

“It’s almost hard to put into words,” said his father. “He battled through so much, so many rounds of chemotherapy, so many surgeries and he just gets up every day and goes to school. Pretty much a straight-A student, does his [physical therapy] twice a week and doesn’t complain much.”

Sam was wearing an Alex Ovechkin jersey, but his favorite player is Nicklas Backstrom. Sam does have a Backstrom jersey, but it is autographed and framed on the wall at home. But on Tuesday, he received a surprise from Backstrom -- a new Capitals No. 19 jersey with Becker's name on the back of it.

On Wednesday, Sam will be the Capitals’ guest when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in a nationally televised game. He will take part in the ceremonial puck drop as part of Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.

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