When you meet 3-year-old Jayden King, you don’t immediately sense that he’s been through a pretty tough fight. But when he starts reciting Dallas Cowboys players' names and jersey numbers, and announces that the team must “finish the fight,” you realize he knows what he’s talking about.
Doctors diagnosed the problem when his mom was 28 weeks pregnant. He would have his first open heart surgery just four days after he was born. He has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
"Which essentially means he has half of a heart,” said his mom Laci King.
Two more open heart surgeries would follow, the most recent this past year.
But that half a heart, three surgeries later, is pretty dang full. And it has Cowboys fever.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with his 3-year-old brain. Ask him and he’ll tell you the jersey numbers of Zeke Elliott, Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and his favorite -- Dak Prescott.
"Why do you like the Cowboys so much?” I asked him.
“Because. Because they’re all good,” he said.
"He's definitely a little Cowboy in training,” his mom said.
The rest of his training happens in the living room. Wearing an older brother’s football helmet, he and his dad run plays in the living room – with Jayden taking turns being Dak, Dez, and Zeke.
"We are so thankful to be his parents and to be able to go through this journey with him, and to see the fight in him, and to be able to fight for him,” Laci said.
Jayden's long-term prognosis is good, but he will probably never be able to play football for real. So in his living room, he's living his Cowboys dream.
As for the Green Bay Packers, he's made up his mind about them too.
"They're not good,” he said. “Trash.”
So Cowboys, when you battle the Packers, a 3-year-old Cowboy in Coppell will be watching, hoping you hear his message.
"Finish the Fight,” he yelled.
And with all the heart he has, Jayden will be fighting too.
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