Memorial junior touching lives across the sports world, including Michigan State’s Tom Izzo
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Memorial Tigers superfan Sam Schulz continues to touch lives with his story of strength and resilience.
Sam and his sister Sophie live with Epidermolysis Bullosa, or “Butterfly Disease,” which is a rare genetic condition that causes the skin to become fragile. Sam is currently experiencing what his father Pat Schulz called Failure to Thrive, which is the cause of his hospitalization.
Now a junior at Memorial High School in Evansville, Sam finds his strength through sports. Even though he can no longer play, he has found a passion for games through analysis and connecting with people in the sports world.
“Sam was always a natural,” Pat said. “Barring this disease, I think Samuel would’ve been a really good player. He always had a mind for the game.”
His brother Simon is now a freshman athlete at Memorial. He said his big brother is a huge inspiration to him.
”His favorite saying is ‘These are the cards I was dealt, so go play with them,’” Simon said. “Playing with your different cards every day because you see him battling. Your day can’t be as bad as his.”
Sam is also an honorary member of each athletic program at the high school.
“Some days when he’s not doing very well, and he knows Memorial has a game that day, it’s really the inspiration to get him out of bed and get going for the day,” Pat said.
Memorial football head coach John Hurley attributed Sam to their success.
“Sam started coming around and being involved in football around 2018, and we’ve had a pretty good run since 2018,” Hurley said. “I’d like to think that Sam’s had a big part of that in his attitude. We always talk about how tough people last, and you can’t find anyone tougher than Sam.”
Sam has met several influential sports figures such as former Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson, Ole Miss basketball head coach Kermit Davis, University of Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari, Castle graduate and Xavier basketball player Jack Nunge, and the list goes on and on,
The unique part about Sam is that he does not just know these people, he has developed a relationship with them.
“As a father and a mother, it does hurt your heart quite a bit to see your children in pain all the time,” Pat said. “From the bigger picture, we do see that Sam’s impact is more far-reaching than anything he could ever do from swinging a bat or catching a football. He’s just a wonderful kid.”
Over the basketball season, Sam developed a relationship with the Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. They first met each other when the Spartans squared off against Indiana in Bloomington.
This past season, Izzo invited Sam to the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Sam joined the team in the locker room multiple times throughout the week to give the Spartans a postgame speech.
“Here he is, bandaged from head to toe and he’s just a guy that’s so easy to talk to,” Izzo said. “And I said to my guys, you better appreciate what you have. This kid’s fighting for his life, you’re fighting to win a game. He’ll explain it, ‘I’m getting blood transfusions, I need to get more water in me,’ but he never, I mean never complains. I’d like to have coached Sam, he’d be fun to coach.”
Sam’s hospital stay is expected to be between 20 and 22 days.
“I had somebody today tell me, ‘You know, Sam always asks me how I’m doing, and I look over at this kid and think, I should be asking you this.’ He cares more about others and not as much about himself and I think that’s just a testament to what a great kid he is,” Pat said.
The constant message is there is something to be learned from Sam Schulz.
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