LSU’s head football coach Les Miles put a temporary hault on preparing this week’s game to tend to a more pressing need— a dying teen whose story was close to his heart.
16-year-old Sid Ortis first got the chance to talk to Miles back in March when Miles called to pray with him and then invited him to be a box-seat guest.
The coach called Sid again a few days ago, and they caught up like old friends as they chatted about football, running backs, and eternity. The Mountain Brook teen is now in hospice care, so the reality of life after death was a topic neither could avoid.
Miles once told Sid, “Life is not how long you live, but how well you live it.” Well in their most recent conversation, it became apparent that Sid officially wouldn’t be here for “long.” Knowing there were no longer any other words to lighten that reality, Miles looked in the boys eyes and said, “When you get to Heaven, save a spot for me.”
Sid told Miles he really hoped to live to see the day that Alabama plays LSU on November 7th, but the odds aren’t looking so great. Miles said he would do whatever he could to get Sid to the game if he can make it. His Mom Lynn said, “If he’s alive and up for it, we’ll take him wherever. Sid gets whatever he wants right now.” She just wants to do anything she can to make sure the last days of her son’s life are the best days of his life.
He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, back in 2014. Only 400 people under age 20 get bone cancer each year, and Sid was one of the unfortunate few.
Since the diagnosis, his community in Mountain Brook has joined together to support Sid—they even all rallied together to dress the town in gold and purple in honor of the LSU Tigers, Sid’s pride and joy.
And the hometown soccer team made these “Geaux Sid” shirts to show their support.
The night Sid’s family got the news, friends came from all around to join them in prayer, and the prayers haven’t stopped.
Last Sunday, with nothing left that the doctors could do, Sid decided to go home.
“I was really scared about coming home, but it’s been the best thing we ever did,” said Lynn. “It’s been beautiful. There’s been so much peace here. ”
Refusing to relent in their faith, hundreds of people gathered at a ball field to pray for Sid last week. 200 more people joined hands to surround his home in prayer, as Sid and his mom stared out his bedroom window in amazement.
“That morning I had prayed for an army of angels to surround our house and then to look outside and see that, it was amazing,” said Lynn. “Sid was tired, so we just watched it together.”
Sid also had a beautiful prayer for his friends:
“Dear Lord, thank you for everything you’ve given me and these wonderful friends who have been there with me through the fight. And let them all live prosperous lives once I’m gone, and let everybody stay on the path of righteousness and not get away from You. Amen.”
“It’s not morose, it’s like a party,” said his mom. “Sid’s not sad. He said he’s not scared. He said he would see us again.”
Sid seems to underestimate the impact his life has had on others. He thinks he’s just “one of a bunch of kids with cancer,” according to his Dad, Scott Ortis. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Scott said, “Dozens and dozens have come back to a spiritual belief because of Sid. Not everybody gets to see that, and it’s a pretty special thing.”
And it’s people like Les Miles that continue to make Sid feel like the most special kid on the planet in his very last days.
Sid doesn’t fully realize how much he’s affected those around him, but the lives of his friends and family will forever be changed by the heart of this passionate young prayer warrior.