Detroiter, Dolphins CB Lippett surprises young patient

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit – While 6-year-old Caleb Tedford was in physical therapy, Miami Dolphins cornerback and Detroit native Tony Lippett was waiting to surprise him with a room makeover on Saturday at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Lippett returned to his hometown and said he wanted to bring joy to a family spending Christmas in a hospital. With a few calls to Children’s Hospital of Michigan – DMC, his rehab therapist, Dawn Greiner recommended him.

“Caleb just underwent a selective surgery for his cerebral palsy to help him walk better. When you see him, he’s a riot, very animated, loves sports and we know he’s going to love this,” said Greiner.

Greiner said Caleb has been at Children’s Hospital for about three weeks and will need to stay at least another month to recover from the surgery. Caleb was born with CP and diagnosed at 18 months when his mother Lysonia Hernandez noticed he wasn’t beginning to walk like a normal child.

“They said he wouldn’t walk until he was seven and he started walking at two and he hasn’t sat down since Tony got here,” said Hernandez, of Inkster.

Caleb loves Teen Titans, Spongebob, Batman and fish. Lippett and volunteers gave his hospital room a makeover with “under the sea” walls full of fish, toys, Miami Dolphins apparel, Batman bed spread, rugs and a bean bag chair.

“They say he’s been walking more and better and to get a smile on all their faces, I don’t need anything for Christmas,” said Lippett. “I always come back to Detroit and do stuff for kids because when I was a kid, I wanted stuff to happen for me...times like these keep me going and is the least I can do.”

Caleb’s older sister Simya, 9, received presents and fell in love with a furry backpack along with gift cards for his parents.

“With everything that happened with Caleb’s surgery and the nerves attacking his spine, we didn’t know what Christmas would look like this year, but this is amazing,” said Hernandez.

Lippett is in his third year with the Dolphins and has been recovering since he tore his Achilles tendon during practice in August and needed surgery.

“I’m a little over four months out of my Achilles surgery, (rehabs) going pretty good. I’m getting my strength back and I’m grinding to get back. Working one day at a time and I’ll be back better than ever,” he said.

The ex-Michigan State star says he still watches the Spartans and hopes for a win against Washington State on Thursday in the Holiday Bowl.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_