LONG BEACH, Calif. — If life is like a game, then 11-year-old Silas Hoffman plays to win.

What You Need To Know

  • Last year, a leukemia diagnosis rocked the world of then-10-year-old Silas Hoffman and his family

  • Since then, Silas has formed a unique relationship with Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey

  • Ramsey and Silas motivate each other to keep fighting on their respective fields

  • This weekend, the Hoffmans will get to take in Super Bowl Sunday from SoFi Stadium

Whether it's at home playing games with his family or suited up on the field, Silas' parents will be the first to tell you that he is quite the fighter.

“He started playing for the Anaheim Rams when he was 5, full gear, full pads," said Kurt Hoffman, Silas' father. "He didn’t wanna play flag or touch. He was all in.”

And for 10 years, that was the extent of it. Silas was a ball of energy and laughs — that is, until his fighting spirit was called upon in ways his family could never have imagined.

In the summer of 2020, the Hoffmans began to notice something was off with their son.

"We noticed he was a little bit out of it, very tired, was complaining of headaches and body aches," Kurt explained. "Then the symptoms got a bit weirder."

A trip to the doctor's office confirmed what they feared most: Silas has leukemia.

"When the doctors came in to do all these tests and when they left the room, I looked at Silas, and he looked at me and said, 'Mommy what’s wrong with me?'" said Maya de la Vega, Silas' mom. "I told him, 'Look buddy, I think you’re sick. I think you might have cancer, and you’re gonna make it. You’re gonna be fine.'"

The first year of treatment was a whirlwind. It was hard on Silas.

"Scared, sad, a lot of emotions, mainly just sad and scared," he said.

It was a tough time on the family.

"There’s nothing you can do to help them," de la Vega said. "You’re on the sidelines watching it. But he would always look at me and say, 'I’m OK, I got this. I don’t wanna stop.'"

Remember, that if life is like a game, than Silas Hoffman plays to win. But in every great game, you need players to help keep you in the fight. And Silas loved no player more than Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Late last year, the Hoffmans were connected with the Rams organization. The team organized a Zoom call between Ramsey and Silas. On it, Silas had just one request.

"I asked him for his mariachi suit," Silas said.

From there, Ramsey's relationship with the young fan continued to grow. The cornerback gifted Silas a matching mariachi suit, but more than that, Ramsey gave him hope.

"Knowing he’s special, knowing he’s there on the invite of someone special and people that really are rooting for him, like he’s rooting for them," Kurt said. "It’s been incredible to see his spirit get lifted."

“That’s my little homie, that’s my dog," Ramsey said. "So I hope everything I do, I’m going out and making him proud and, at the same time, supporting him in his fight.”

At the end of the day, it is still a fight. And sometimes, Silas has trouble pushing through. Sometimes, the tears still come. But then he remembers he's a fighter.

"Sometimes I try to make jokes, make people laugh, try to have fun," he said.

That's the true gift Ramsey has given them: a little fun in the wake of so many challenges.

“Jalen was heaven-sent, man," de la Vega said. "He has really helped Silas in ways he doesn’t even know or can imagine. That suit he gave Silas was magical.”

"I really just forget about having cancer, because I really enjoy the sport," Silas said. "I get into the sport and it makes me forget I have cancer."

"I feel like a superhero," said Silas in describing he feels in the mariachi suit.

Silas is now a superhero heading to the Super Bowl. During the regular season, the Rams and Ramsey gifted Silas and his mom two tickets to the Super Bowl. To say they're excited is an understatement.

“I am so excited, I cannot wait to go," Silas said. "It’s gonna be so fun.”

"It just keeps getting better for him, and it’s just great to see him smile after crying so much," de la Vega said. "All those smiles wash away the bad memories."

And of course in this game, Silas and the Rams are both aiming to win.