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Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton shares full-circle moment with fan who helped make his NFL dreams come true

Ben Lepper brought the energy when he announced Tyquan Thornton's name at the 2022 NFL Draft. That moment came full circle for the two at training camp Friday.

Tyquan Thornton, Ben Lepper.PDC

Between Patriots rookie Tyquan Thornton and 20-year-old Massachusetts native Ben Lepper, neither will forget April 29, 2022.

Lepper had recently been surprised by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Patriots CEO and chairman Robert Kraft, who tasked him with the responsibility of announcing New England's second-round pick at the NFL Draft in Las Vegas.

For the 20-year-old Massachusetts resident, this was a dream come true -- especially considering how football helped him get through two years of treatment for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. And when the Patriots traded up to the 50th overall pick to snag the speedy receiver, he made sure to make the moment just as special for Thornton.

"I remember that moment like it was yesterday," Thornton said of the way Lepper announced the selection, as if the aspiring sports journalist already was a professional broadcaster.

"Just hearing all the energy that he brought to the stage, that podium, it made my heart beat a little bit different, you know? That moment felt so surreal. My family was there with me and I just loved how he announced my name -- I appreciate him for that."

That moment came full circle on Friday.

Lepper, the super fan that he is, made it out to training camp and stood along the ropes with his mother. He was unsuspecting of any more surprises while watching the players answer questions with the media, but started putting pieces together when he saw Thornton walking his way.

The two 20-somethings embraced each other for a hug and shared sentiments of appreciation for each other and the moment they shared.

"It feels a little surreal," Lepper said after the interaction. "You know, I went from reading his name out on the stage in Vegas, now to actually shaking his hand here in Foxborough. I cannot believe it. I feel blessed to be here. I feel happy, happier than ever to be alive at this moment and I can't wait to see him out there and buy his jersey. I just I can't wait to watch him tear it up this year."

The two chatted about Thornton's speed, playing college football at Baylor, and how excited Leper is to have the receiver on his favorite team.

Thornton also got to let him know how special Lepper made the day that changed his life forever.

"I knew he was a cool person just through that little moment right there," Thornton said. "It was an honor just to meet him and get to chop it up with him a little bit. That is so amazing. I'm so grateful and thankful for it."

Receiver Kendrick Bourne made his way over to sign an autograph, and after FaceTiming with Mac Jones the day he found out he was flying to Vegas on behalf of the Patriots, Lepper finally got to meet the quarterback in person on the practice field.

He also got to reunite with defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, who was alongside him on stage when he announced Thornton's name.

The rookie will have that moment forever ingrained in his memory, adding another layer of emotion to everything. So will Lepper.

"I'm not going to forget it either," Lepper said.

"That entire moment I was in my element, and I told him that I wasn't faking it. I'm genuinely that excited to have him on this team. I'm genuinely excited to watch him. I just can't wait for that. I'm never gonna forget not only announcing his name, but meeting him for the first time and hearing that I made an impact on his life just like how he made an impact on my life. It's really incredible how this is all coming full circle for me right now."

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