Hospice Patient’s Dye Job Honors WR Amon-Ra St. Brown
An 83-year-old Detroit Lions fan and hospice patient named Larry Benjamin has become an internet sensation after dyeing his hair Honolulu blue in support of his favorite team. Benjamin’s tribute to breakout wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has struck a chord with Lions fans during an unexpected playoff run.
As the Lions prepare for today’s NFC Divisional Playoff game against the New York Giants, Benjamin’s story has gone viral across social media and news outlets. His bold act of fandom even caught the attention of St. Brown himself.
Lifelong Fan Makes Declaration
Benjamin has been a Lions fan his whole life, even during decades of losing seasons. But with the team’s turnaround this year under coach Dan Campbell, the lifelong Detroit resident felt compelled to make a declaration of his loyalty.
So earlier this week, he had his caretakers at Oakmont Sterling assisted living facility dye his white hair bright Honolulu blue – the Lions’ iconic team color. Benjamin’s photo quickly spread on Facebook thanks to his daughter, and he’s enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.
“It just felt like the right thing to do,” Benjamin told ABC 12 News. “I’ve suffered with this team for 60 years. Now they’re winning, it’s the least I can do.”
Gesture Goes Viral
Benjamin’s viral photo shows him beaming in a hat and Lions shirt, with a single shock of dark blue hair sprouting from underneath. His eyes practically glow to match his dyed locks.
The image struck a chord with passionate Lions fans on social media, many of whom changed their own profile pictures to Benjamin’s photo or videos in solidarity. Over 27,000 Facebook users shared the heartwarming post.
“This is what being a true fan is all about,” wrote one commenter. “Much respect to Mr. Benjamin.”
Local Detroit sports radio stations and national outlets like USA Today, Fox Sports and The Sporting News have also picked up Benjamin’s story.
St. Brown Sends Signed Jersey
The frenzy even got back to Lions locker room, where Amon-Ra St. Brown was shown Benjamin’s photo. The breakout receiver praised the fan’s “incredible” support.
Then this week, St. Brown surprised Benjamin by sending a signed jersey reading: “To Larry, my #1 fan.” The gesture left Benjamin visibly emotional.
“I can’t believe he knows who I am,” Benjamin told reporters. “I’ve watched Amon-Ra since he was a rookie. He’s the future of this team.”
St. Brown and his equally talented brother Equanimeous have emerged as Lions stars, helping key a playoff run many thought improbable. Now the legend of “Mr. Benjamin’s Blue Hair” has been woven into this Cinderella story.
Hair Trend Catching On
In the pre-game excitement, Benjamin isn’t the only Lions fan making a loud fashion statement. Several fans have posted photos of themselves dyeing their own hair blue as a viral trend. Even young children are taking part.
“I’ve seen four people with blue heads of hair just since I had mine done,” chuckled Benjamin. “This team means so much to Detroit. People want to be a part of it.”
The hashtag #LionsBlueHair has spread across social media as fans show their spirit. If the team pulls a major upset today vs. New York, expect Honolulu blue to color the streets across Motor City.
“Win or lose, I’m riding with my Lions ’til the day I die,” declared Benjamin. “But I sure hope we make the Super Bowl!”
Hospice Care Patient
While everyone is rooting for the Lions playoff magic to continue, Benjamin’s personal circumstances add deeper meaning. His family has clarified that Benjamin is currently in end-of-life care at his hospice center.
Yet the lifelong fan continues displaying the kind of fiery passion that only sports can inspire. He plans to watch today’s Lions game with fellow residents and staff at Oakmont Sterling, where he can already claim status as a minor celebrity.
“I may not see another game if God calls me home,” said Benjamin. “I’m just happy the Lions are letting me go out with a smile on my face and some blue in my hair!”
Lions Face Uphill Battle
Sadly, the game day result may not match Benjamin’s hopes. The Lions enter today’s contest as major underdogs – the Giants are favored by 10 points according to Las Vegas oddsmakers.
New York fields an intimidating defense led by Dexter Lawrence, Kayvon Thibodeaux and safety Xavier McKinney. Their fierce pass rush could disrupt Lions quarterback Jared Goff and his top targets in St. Brown and Josh Reynolds.
Las Vegas projects a relatively low-scoring affair in cold conditions at the Giants’ home stadium. That likely favors New York’s run-heavy attack behind bruising rusher Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones.
Realistically, everything must break right for the Lions to pull the road upset. But regardless of today’s score, Larry Benjamin and his vibrant blue hair will be proudly repping his Lions until the final whistle.
Honoring His Late Wife
Benjamin’s show of team dedication is made even more poignant by his personal backstory. His wife of 53 years, Marilyn Benjamin, passed away last March after her own battle with declining health.
The couple raised three children together in Detroit and shared a lifelong love affair with Lions football. Attending games over the years was one of their favorite pastimes.
Last season after his wife’s death left him devastated, Benjamin said he nearly gave up his Lions fandom, missing most games. But the team’s exciting resurgence under Dan Campbell reignited his passion.
“I know Marilyn is up there cheering for our Lions with me,” said an emotional Benjamin from his hospice center. “This playoff run is for her.”
What’s Next for Larry Benjamin
Bigger than any single game, Larry Benjamin’s story has illustrated the power of sports fandom at its best – an 83-year old man filled with spirit in what could be his final days.
The Oakmont Sterling staff says Benjamin will get VIP treatment today as he watches his Lions try to stun the football world. Win or lose, his blue hair and beaming smile have already scored.
There’s even buzz that Detroit Tigers opening day at nearby Comerica Park could feature a Larry Benjamin first pitch ceremony. Talk about going viral!
Through it all, Benjamin remains humble but gratified so many people now know his name thanks to this poignant show of Lions loyalty. It echoes the words of his favorite player Amon-Ra St. Brown.
“It just shows you,” Benjamin said, “when you manifest dreams into thoughts and thoughts into reality, incredible things can happen.”
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