WASHINGTON, January 14, 2014 — Zach Lederer, the 20-year old manager of the University of Maryland’s basketball team who gained the attention of celebrities and professional athletes across the country, has been taken off life support and brought home for hospice care.
Lederer was originally diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 11 years old. He beat cancer as a young boy with the help of surgery and radiation although it was not an easy road.
Zach and his mother found themselves in the emergency room at JohnsHopkinsHospital with doctors telling them he had a tumor and it was fatal. The staff told the family to take their son home, make his comfortable and wait for the worst.
As luck would have it, the internationally known and often considered best pediatric neurosurgeon in the country, Ben Carson was on call that night and he decided to personally take on Zach’s case.
The surgical team was unable to totally remove the tumor because it was encased in blood vessels, but with the help of radiation and a medically induced coma, the tumor shrunk to the size of a walnut and life for Zach Lederer continued.
In 2011, he enrolled at the University of Maryland, College Park with the dream of becoming a broadcast journalist. Shortly after joining the University, he became the student manager of the Terps basketball team.
Just a year later in January 2012, a second brain tumor was discovered in Zach’s brain after he noticed some numbness in his left leg.
It was after this second surgery while still in the hospital that the world learned who Zach Lederer was. “Tebowing” went out and “Zaching” came in.
A picture of Lederer putting his arms up and flexing his muscles was put on Facebook by his father, a few hours later Zach’s cousins posted photos of the same pose to show their support and a viral sensation began.
Hundreds if not thousands of pictures were posted on Facebook, Titter and Tumblr showing celebrities, musicians, athletes and regular people in the middle of their own cancer battles, in the same strongman pose.
The pose has become synonymous with strength and surviving.
In addition to photos of them Zaching, the University of Maryland’s basketball team has shown support for their manager in other ways as well.
Last year at halftime of the BostonCollege game, Lederer took center court and struck the now famous pose at which point the crowd immediately reciprocated.
Coach Turgeon, who is extremely superstitious when it comes to basketball — he sits in the same chair before each game and starts each press conference with questions from the same reporter — threw out tradition and asked his staff to wear white Under Armour tennis shoes during a game to show their support of Lederer.
In September 2012, a third tumor was found.
Coach Mark Turgeon told the Baltimore Sun “I got an email from somebody who said, ‘He’s only 20 years old, and he’s touched more people than some people who live to be 80.'”
Rumors started on the internet over the weekend reporting that Lederer had passed away leading his family to take to social media to contradict those reports.
Julia Lederer, Zach’s sister, posted on Twitter on Saturday that Zach’s cancer had spread and was causing complications that required him to be put on life support.
“When life support was removed he summoned the strength to continue his battle… He is breathing very well, his vital signs are that of an athlete and he continues to exude love and affection to his family and friends,” wrote Lederer.
Julia continued by saying that the family was hoping to bring Zach home and utilize home hospice care.
The following day Julia Lederer tweeted that the family was bringing Zach home.
Thoughts and prayers for Zach and the Lederer family continue to come in via social media as word spreads that his health is failing.
Zach Lederer has taught a nation what strength and courage truly is and to live every day you are given with dignity and enjoying every minute #Zaching.