P.K. Subban recorded and sent an encouraging video to Ty Cornett, a 13-year-old fan who has been the subject of racially charged bullying while playing hockey in Michigan.
"This has meant the world to Ty," his dad, Matthew, told NHL.com. "As a parent, I cried when I saw the video. It's been very tough to hear your son called horrible things.
"This video meant as much to my wife and I as it did to Ty."
Ty started hearing racial slurs and threats from opponents and parents during a tournament last spring, and the taunts have gotten worse, says Matthew. The father considered pulling his son out of hockey after an especially graphic incident earlier in the season, but the decision was made to continue playing.
Subban showed his full support for the young player.
"As long as you're still breathing in this world, you've got to believe in yourself and let nobody tell you what you can and can't do, especially if it's because of the color of your skin," Subban said as part of the 43-second video. "In this world, some things happen that we can't completely understand. That's OK; we don't have to understand it. All we have to do is understand our self, believe in our self and keep trying and keep pushing forward. So I just want to tell you that when you're playing hockey, you play because you love the game and you want to play. Let nobody take that away from you."
Video: Hear what P.K. Subban had to say to a young fan
Cornett first learned about Subban, then with the Montreal Canadiens, seven years ago and was drawn to his aggressive style of play. Cornett has a slew of Subban paraphernalia, including T-shirts, bobbleheads and a poster of him on his wall. Like Subban, Ty plays defense and wears his favorite player's No. 76 on the ice.
Subban was tipped off by the father of one of Ty's teammates. He recorded the video Saturday, when Nashville played against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena, roughly 40 miles from where Cornett lives in Plymouth, Michigan.
"Saturday night he received the message and went nuts," Matthew said. "He has probably watched the video 500 times. That night he had a game, and I have never seen him happier to go."
Ty is one of four children Matthew and his wife adopted, and Matthew has been partially paralyzed while battling two forms of cancer. Matthew is a Red Wings fan, but he's had no problem supporting his son's fandom of Subban.
However, Matthew said Subban's gesture does have one drawback.
"I have to go out and buy six Subban jerseys," he said. "That's going to set me back."