ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Larry Prout Jr. is never far from the mind of Michigan quarterback John O’Korn.
While O’Korn was an intern with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality earlier this summer in New York City, and throughout his training to prepare for Michigan’s season opener Sept. 2 against Florida in Arlington, Texas, something always made O’Korn think of Prout.
Prout is a 16-year-old from Howell, Mich., who was born with several serious illnesses. He has undergone 99 surgeries in his lifetime. The Wolverines “drafted” Prout, and during a ceremony in October at Schembechler Hall, Prout signed a letter of intent to join the Wolverines.
“I love that kid,” said O’Korn, a fifth-year senior. “There’s been times that, specifically, he’s been going through a lot of stuff this summer and he had a really tough time, battling with a lot of things. Being in the middle of a workout, a tough workout, when coaches are kicking your [behind], the thought of a strong kid like that, the strongest person I know, really, crosses your mind and you’re like, ‘I can’t even complain. Bite your tongue.’ ”
Prout befriended O’Korn and former Michigan running back De’Veon Smith last summer through Team IMPACT. A nonprofit organization based in Boston, Team IMPACT has a mission to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
Prout underwent nine surgeries this summer and is recovering from an infection in his spine. His mother, Kathryn Doane Prout, posted Tuesday on social media that Prout was scheduled to have staples removed from his spine this week.
Tomorrow Larry Jr finally gets his staples out of his back. This summer has really been rough for him….but things are gonna get better!!! pic.twitter.com/izVvIr1v7u
— Prout Family (@gardens8) August 16, 2017
“Just getting to know him and seeing his joy every time he’s in this building, or go see him at his house or at Mott [Children’s Hospital], it just brightens my day,” said O’Korn, who is competing with redshirt junior Wilton Speight for Michigan’s starting quarterback job. “It makes you appreciate what Team IMPACT and Michigan have done to forge that relationship.”