It's one of the most unlikely of friendships – the 6-foot, redheaded third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and an 8-year-old boy from North Bellmore, New York.
The duo might not appear to be the perfect pair, but we assure you, they are the best of friends.
Turner first met Luke Lang in March of 2013 when he was playing for the New York Mets. At the time, the 6-year-old, Lang, was fighting for his life after being diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare type of cancer in which the body's bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
The chance meeting occurred on March 28, 2013 when the Mets were taking on the Washington Nationals. It was the first time Luke was able to leave his home since being diagnosed, and he was anxious to get to the game and cheer on his favorite team.
For Turner, he thought he would meet Luke, give him an autograph, and be on his merry way, little did he know that Luke would change his life, and become a part of it forever.
"It was an extremely special day for me. Our relationship has grown since we first met in 2013," Turner said. "His family are now really good friends of ours. We tried to make it as special of a day as possible."
Luke came with a gift for Turner on that day, a thoughtful, and touching token that affected Turner to his soul. It was not an expensive gift; it was not anything that at first glance would make one turn their head in amazement, but the tiny bracelet that carried Turner's motto, "Losing is not an option," was enough to make Turner open up his heart.
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Shortly after the season, Turner was released by the Mets and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. For many professional athletes, the cross-country move to the west coast would mark the end of the friendship, but not for Turner and Luke.
Turner made sure that the duo remained in each other's lives. When the Dodgers clinched the NL West Division last season, Turner flew Luke out to Los Angeles for a celebration at Universal Studios. A few weeks later, Luke was at Dodger Stadium for the team's NLDS matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals.
But the friendship and generosity didn't end there. In July, when the Dodgers were in New York for a four-game stretch at Citi Field, Turner headed out to Long Island to surprise Luke at his Little League game.
A couple months later, when Luke's season was over, Turner flew his friend back out to Los Angeles where the two partied at Dave & Buster's. Turner asked the Dodgers if Luke could throw out the ceremonial first pitch at an upcoming game, and the Dodgers obliged, slating Luke into the most important series of the season against the rival San Francisco Giants.
Luke took the mound in front of over 40,000 people at Dodger Stadium and delivered a dart to his friend Turner. But before the game, Luke decided to touch the life of another Dodger, super-utility player, Kiké Hernandez.
"I went to Dave and Buster's with him and he won this big 6-foot stuffed banana. I had no idea he was going to bring it to the game, but when he walked in with it, I was dying laughing," Turner said of the present for Hernandez. "I had Kiké come over, and he hung out with him for an hour, only because he had a great time with him."
Turner asked Hernandez to come over and meet Luke during batting practice, and the always-jovial player, who created the rally banana, instantly said yes, expecting to brighten the youngster's day. Little did he know, Luke brightened his:
"I thought I was going over there to put a smile on a kid's face," Hernandez explained of the meeting. "But it ended up being the other way around."
Luke had won the giant stuffed banana prize at Dave and Buster's a night earlier with Turner. The prize was a night's worth of arcade games, tokens and tickets. Ordinarily, any other 8-year-old would selfishly take home their hard-earned prize and hang it on their shelf, but not Luke, look gave it to Hernandez.
"That’s just the type of kid he is," Turner said of Luke's generosity. "People are attracted to him, his smile, his sense of humor, and his outlook on life is pretty incredible considering the cards he was dealt."
"We complain about so many things, and here's an 8-year-old kid with Luekemia," Hernandez said. "It opens your eyes. It was very emotional for me. I'm looking forward to seeing him again."
Luke and Turner plan to continue to be the closest of friends and remain in each other's lives. Turner has already promised Luke a return trip to Los Angeles if the Dodgers make the playoffs, which seems likely as they stand 8.5 games up in the NL West as of today's date.
"September is Children's Cancer Awareness month and he got to throw out the first pitch on Sept. 1," Turner concluded. "Hopefully it let everyone know about his story and make people more aware about Children's Cancer."
Remember, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and there are plenty of kids in the world like Luke that could use a friend.