The sophomore moved many inside St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center to tears last week after he lost a state high school wrestling championship to fellow sophomore Mitchell McKee, yet poignantly embraced his opponent's father, who is battling terminal cancer and given only months to live.
"I got a little teary because I lost the match, and I knew the hard times he was going through. The crowd went wild and I heard a couple people say after I did it – that was pretty classy – but I just did it straight from the heart," Stewart told NBC affiliate KARE in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
The young wrestler knows the pain of losing a father while young all too well: His own father died when he was just 7 of a heart attack.
Stewart's ultimate show of sportsmanship sweetly stunned many who watched it and knew the McKee family's struggle. His inspiring act was particularly appreciated by his opponent.
"It was a big match for him and to be able to hug my dad like that and not be mad and storm off like a lot of kids do," said McKee. "Really respectful."
Already, Stewart's mature display is being touted as a model of sportsmanship by other coaches who watched the heartwarming scene.
"The whole crowd gave a standing ovation, not just for the STMA wrestler and his father, but for Stewart, who understands what true sportsmanship is," T.J. Anderson, an assistant wrestling coach at Minnesota's Dassel-Cokato Middle School, wrote in a letter to Stewart's school district.
"Mr. Stewart is a model wrestler that we can all use in our examples of what a true athlete is."