Rare disease forms special bond for Charlotte boy

A condition at a young age helped connect young boy with Dallas Cowboys quarterback.
Gavin Miller and Cooper Rush's incredible friendship
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 5:54 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WILX) - Like any 11-year-old, Gavin Miller likes watching YouTube, enjoys sports and playing Fortnite.

But his life growing up has been anything but easy.

Seven years ago, Gavin’s thighbone stopped growing. At just four-years-old, Gavin was diagnosed with a rare disease, Perthes, which affects the blood supply to the ball of the hip joint for unknown reasons, causing the bone to collapse.”

“Gavin wanted to play hockey. So he was in a learn to play hockey program and he kept complaining of knee pain. I was like, you’re fine, get back out there keep pushing through it.,” his mother Karen said. “He developed a limp and we took him into the doctor. We went into an orthopedic because of his age and knee pain and they just automatically did a hip X-ray and it came right up on the hip X ray.”

Gavin was only five years old when he had his first surgery in Lansing.

But his health quickly regressed and they decided to seek further medical expertise, but one which was far more expensive.

Miller needed a second surgery, but it was one in which the family couldn’t afford.

After vetting several specialists across the U.S., Karen found The International Perthes Foundation in Dallas.

It was there that Gavin found something else there.

A fellow Michigander who now works and lives in Dallas -- Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush.

“We ended up raising 5,000 dollars to get us down there. But in the process we had been asked why don’t you get something from Cooper Rush? He’s from here, that would be a really good silent auction thing,” Miller said. “Come to find out we were neighbors that we didn’t even realize.”

One of many autographed pieces of Cooper Rush memorabilia in Gavin Miller's bedroom.
One of many autographed pieces of Cooper Rush memorabilia in Gavin Miller's bedroom.(WILX)

Through a handful of trips to Dallas for surgeries and follow-ups, Gavin and Cooper have become fast friends.

Rush visited Miller at the hospital during his procedures, throws him passes in the yard and invites him over to his Dallas house to play video games when he is in town.

Gavin Miller and Cooper Rush hanging out at Rush's Dallas home.
Gavin Miller and Cooper Rush hanging out at Rush's Dallas home.(WILX)

“He’s helped me a lot and he’s been doing a lot of cool stuff and I have a lot of things from him,” Miller said with a smile on his face.

Miller savors every moment with Rush, as his bedroom is littered with nearly a dozen autographed jerseys, footballs, towels and photos.

But the big score is that Gavin is finally disease free.

He’s back being an 11-year-old and finding inspiration from the Cowboy QB.

“It was cool because he sent us a video and my um mom showed my entire team and I gave us more inspiration. And after that we went 7-and-0.”

It’s been a long road to full recovery for Gavin, who’s back playing football and now currently wrestling for the Charlotte junior high program.

But he doesn’t see it that way.

He knows now he can help someone else who may be going through a rough spot in life as well.

“I say keep thinking or keep thinking up about someone who you like and keep fighting.”

As part of his “My Cleats, My Cause” non-profit initiative, Rush displayed Gavin Miller’s name front and center on one of his gameday cleats, with “#Perthes” displayed on the other.

Miller and Rush still communicate very frequently and as long as Rush remains a member of America’s team, Gavin says he will also remain a close fan of the Dallas Cowboys.

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