gillette stadium boston foxboro patriots A general view of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images

A Foxborough teenager who became a "friend and inspiration" to many members of the New England Patriots organization, including owner Robert Kraft, died on Friday.

Sam Berns was 17 and died from complications from the premature aging disease progeria.

Berns has spent time in recent months with the Patriots, meeting not only with Kraft, but also with coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and other players.

 

The Patriots held a moment of silence for Berns before Saturday night's AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium.

Kraft, in a statement, said he loved Berns.

"I loved Sam Berns and am richer for having known him. He was a special young man whose inspirational story and positive outlook on life touched my heart," Kraft said in a statement. "I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time with him and to get to know his incredible family. Together, they positively impacted the lives of people around the world in their quest to find a cure for Progeria."

Berns' parents founded the Progeria Research Foundation shortly after learning that their son had the disease.

Berns was also the subject of a 2013 HBO documentary called "Life According to Sam."

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.

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