Most people know the story by now. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson has an older brother, Champ Pederson, that has Down syndrome. That story was on full display during the 2015 Home Run Derby when Albert Pujols, Joc, and Champ embraced after one of the rounds. It was magical.
What most people don’t know, though, is just how much inspiration Joc actually draws from his oldest brother. In a lot of ways, Joc is living for the both of them, and the bond that the two share will never be broken or touched. It’s one of the most inspiring stories in sports, and Joc talked about it.
“You know that he and other people with Down syndrome would do anything to just have a normal day where they could go out there and play,” Pederson said. “You can never take this for granted. He’s an everyday reminder of how fortunate I am, how blessed I am to play a game every day.”
That drive, that motivation, is what empowers Joc to keep fighting and trying to improve on the field. Despite a second half slump that saw him lose playing time gradually over the last several months of the season, he still has not lost that will and passion. You can thank Champ for that.
Joc Pederson is batting .353 this spring, and his new swing has helped deliver a more balanced approach that sprays the ball to all fields. He still has his hiccups, as his 15 strikeouts in 34 at-bats will tell you, but he’s doing his best to iron out a new swing that’ll limit those strikeouts in the future.
Nothing ever comes easy. If it did, it wouldn’t be worth doing in the first place. Joc knows all about the hardships and hardwork that it takes to achieve anything, and his oldest brother is a constant reminder that giving up is never an option. “Live Like A Champ” isn’t just a motto; it’s a lifestyle.