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Brian's story in his own words
"My name is Brian Thomas Littrell. I was born February 20th, 1975 in St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. I was born to Harold, Jr. and Jackie Littrell - I was their second son. I have a brother who's three years older than me. We grew up fairly middle class. My dad worked at IBM; later they were bought out by a company over in Germany. They work on typewriter ribbons, computer ribbons, and stuff like that. He's worked there ever since high school, eighteen years old. My grandfather, Harold Littrell, Sr., worked there, so my dad kind of followed in his footsteps. [Dad] enlisted in the Navy and was in for four years. Right before he left the Navy, he met my mom. My mom worked at a church, where I grew up actually.
As a young boy, I ate, drank and slept church whether I liked it or not. I'd rather be playing on Sundays, but it grew on me and I think it had a lot to do with the way I live my life now. Ever since I was little, I was running around singing and being a comedian and making everybody laugh. My mom and dad both sing like birds, so they would sing in church all the time. Ever since kindergarten, I was always involved in the children's chorus at church, and I was always singing up on stage. I was like six or seven years old when I did my first solo in front of a congregation at the church. This is a church that has like 4,000 members; it would only have had about 1,500 at the services on Sunday morning. But that was a big feat for a six or seven year old! I was very nervous, but I was happy! I'm very shy around people that I don't know, but once I get to know a certain person, I can relax and then I turn into a ham. I'm very timid when it comes to meeting people: I kind of clam up really easy.
I grew up in a house in Lexington. My brother and I got along - back then, three years was a lot of difference in our ages. I was born with a heart murmur and I have a hole in my heart. At the age of five, I was diagnosed with a disease of the blood and the heart; they call it a staph infection. I went through the first five years of my life without anyone knowing I had this murmur. The way it happened was...
One day when I was five I was riding my Big Wheel down the street and I hit this curb and kind of flipped and skinned my knee. That's where the infection set in, [but no one knew it at the time]. When I got my Big Wheel home, I got a cookie and a kiss from mom and I was fine. Then about two weeks later, I had an accident over at my grandfather's house: I slipped and fell on the concrete and knocked my head really well, so my mom was worried about me having a concussion or something. That's when they took me to the hospital. During the last two weeks, the [staph] infection had set in. It's a miracle that I had [a second] accident, so they could get me to a hospital [and discover the infection], because other than that I was a healthy five year old by appearance. I never had any disabilities; I was always able to run with the other kids. But that's when they hospitalized me for two months.
I remember it very well. I used to dream about it, I have a lot of bad memories about it, because of how unhealthy I was and how the infection has set into my blood. I was very weak and very pale. I just didn't have any strength. I would have to be pushed around in a wheelchair. Eventually I was able to push my little IV and walk up and down the hallways.
This disease that I had is fatal and I had zero chance of living. The doctors told my mom and dad to go ahead and make funeral arrangements, because 'your son is going to pass on.' And my mom...I'm the baby of the family, and it was so hard for her to deal with. Us being in the church, she asked for help from the church and from family, and time went on. I was on certain medication, but nothing really could stop this infection. As time went on, however, the infection started to disappear and it went away! I thank God for that experience. I know that it was a miracle. There's no medicine that could keep me on this earth.
I'll never forget something that my mom said when I was 10 or 11: 'You know Brian, when you were in the hospital I was holding on to you for dear life, because I wanted to keep you here with me so bad...you're my baby and I needed you. I finally realized that God has different means.' [She realized] that I was a blessing in her life, and she had to let me go, if it was my time. That night when she made that prayer, she gave me up. She said 'Whatever happens, happens, if it's meant to be.' And from then on, I started to slowly get better and recover.
The doctors told my mom and dad that if I did live...I wouldn't be able to do anything. Coming from a protective family, I came out of the hospital like on a rampage, because I was feeling a lot better. It still took some time to get all of my strength back, doing everything that I had done in the past...being little, it didn't limit me to anything.
My first love in sports was soccer, and soccer deals with a lot of running. We lived right behind the church, in the split-level that I grew up in. Our church was fairly large and they had a whole football field. Every summer they had a little soccer training camp for kids my age and a bit younger, and I would always try and get out there and play with them. My mom and dad were very protective in letting me do certain extra curricular activities that dealt with a lot of running, though, any cardiovascular stuff, any stress that your heart goes under. My heart being weak at the time [my parents] were very scared. They never let me play soccer, so I eventually picked up a basketball and I played for the church league with all my high school buddies. In basketball, you do just as much running in soccer, it's crazy. Ever since then, I really got into it, and I never had any problems. A couple years after I got out of the hospital, I was growing, [and my parents] slowly let me do what I wanted to do.
Every year since then, I attended the University of Kentucky Medical Center just one time a year. I'd go back to the same doctors that I'd grown up with. They were still there and they would check my heart and do EKGs and CAT scans. And every time they say the hole is getting smaller!
Having that experience made it a closer relationship with my family, with my brother, with all my friends at church, the whole church itself, with God. Growing up with that in mind, I stuck to my guns when peer pressure came around in middle school to do what everybody's doing. Instead of going out and partying, I was always at a Wednesday night church service. I'm not saying I was the best kid in the world, because everybody has flaws. But it just made me a better person; I was more proud of what I was doing. And when the singing came along with it, the older I got, the more I realized that maybe God kept me on this earth so I could use the gift that he gave me to be a singer, to be an entertainer. [Today, I have no physical limitations]; it's all in the past. I look back on the experiences and I've learned from the past and I've put it into everyday life. It's just an experience that you can't get rid of, that you have to turn around and use to your benefit..."
(This article taken from the April 1998 issue of SuperTeen Magazine)
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