Archive Page - 12/1/12 39 years, 2,079 covers and 53,260 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- Source: Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart Break Up – for Now
- Inside Story: Why Denise Richards Is Caring for Charlie's Kids with Brooke Mueller
- 13-Year-Old Cancer Patient (and YouTube Star) Talia Designs a Clothing Line
- The Bachelorette's Desiree: 'There Are Going to Be Tears'
- Is This Week's Best-Dressed Star a Little ... Snoozy?
On Newsstands Now
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Saturday May 18, 2013 11:10PM EDT
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- January 16, 2012
- Vol. 77
- No. 2
Ben Breedlove: 1993-2011: A Beautiful Life
Before He Died on Christmas Day, Breedlove, 18, Shared His Story and Inspired Millions
Within days of his death, the high school senior's moving video, This Is My Story, told entirely on handwritten notecards, went viral, gleaning nearly 4 million hits. A frequent YouTube poster with two personal channels, unbeknownst to friends and family, he'd put the clip on a new page. Sister Ally, 19, didn't see it until Christmas night, after friends found it and reposted it on Facebook. "I went on Facebook at 4 in the morning, and it was everywhere," she says. Dad Shawn, 52, and mom Deanne, 49, "were brought to tears seeing their son again," she adds. A happy-go-lucky prankster with a "legion of female admirers," his family said, Breedlove lived life to the fullest, wakeboarding in the summer and constantly tinkering with his video camera. But privately he suffered, enduring dangerous periodic blackouts that kept him from playing sports with friends. In May 2009 he had a pacemaker implanted; recently doctors discussed the possibility of a heart transplant. A second brush with death came last summer, when his heart stopped during tonsil surgery. "My mom and sis were waiting in the waiting room," he recalled in the video, "and a chaplain walked in and said, 'We need to pray.'"
Keeping a brave face after the scare, "Ben didn't want anyone to be sad for him," says friend Grant Hamill, 18. Still looking to the future, the pair planned to go skydiving after graduation. Even so, Breedlove seemed prepared for whatever came next, "always telling us he was going to be all right," adds Hamill. On Dec. 6 he went into cardiac arrest at school and experienced his final vision. This time it featured his favorite rapper, Kid Cudi, and the soundtrack of Cudi's "Mr. Rager." As lyrics played-"When will the fantasy end/When will the heaven begin"-he "had that same feeling" as he did when he was 4. In his video, he says, "I was proud of MYSELF, of my entire life, everything I have done." On the last two flashcards, he asked, "Do you believe in angels?" then replied, "I do." Though still recovering from the Dec. 6 bout, he felt fine on Christmas morning, opening gifts and winning the family's annual Christmas Monopoly game-a first, says Ally. But later that day, while filming Jake, 12, jumping on his new trampoline, he lay down on the grass and never woke up. In the days following his death, thousands paid tribute, including Kid Cudi, who called Breedlove a "real hero."
On Dec. 29 more than 1,500 mourners gathered at his funeral at Austin's Gateway Church. Despite their heartbreak, Breedlove's family believes he was truly ready to say goodbye. "Ben told us of the peace he experienced and how he wanted to go back to that place," says his sister.
The video, they believe, was his way of helping them get over the pain of the end he may have felt was coming. Says Ally: "He left it there for us to find-his way of leaving us with something we'd need."
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!