And then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on...
Every Superman needs a Superwoman, and for La La Anthony, she has become a guardian angel in one very special young man's life.
For those of you who have been keeping up with La La's social media, the media personality has been campaigning for the support and awareness of young Anthony "Superman" Skipper, who has been suffering from an anoxic brain injury after having a seizure in the bathtub and nearly drowning to death in 2015. Although the Sunrise, Florida native was rescued by his younger brother Willie, by the time Anthony was resuscitated, the damage to his brain had already been done.
"It was just sad because I've seen so many pictures of him [before his accident] doing back flips and having fun, but he was born premature and he suffered from seizures. He hadn't had a seizure in two years, but unfortunately the first seizure he had in two years, it was when he was in the bathtub, so he went under the water. His eight year-old brother, who is very close with [my son] Kiyan now, really pulled him out of the tub and saved his life.
About the time they pulled him out the tub and actually got a pulse on him, his brain was without oxygen for over 15 minutes, and he was in the semi-vegetative state. He's the oldest one."
Superman's life caught the attention of La La when family and friends of the young boy had campaigned in her comments in hopes of bringing awareness to her about his condition. Before his accident, Anthony had already endured more than a few medical setbacks and procedures. By the age of one, the preemie baby who was born 1 lb, 4 oz, had already endured four different types of corrective surgeries. Since his accident last year, the 12-year-old has had to learn all basic life functions all over again.
Superman is currently on a ventilator and oxygen tank to assist with breathing. Anthony attempted to breathe on his own at one point and was doing well, until the day his lungs filled with fluid and collapsed. Now, he has to get a trach to help him swallow his foods. His mother has had to quit her job in order to assist with Anthony's round the clock care, as well as be a mom to her three other children.
Perhaps it was the shared name between La La Anthony and "Superman Anthony," or God Himself, but either way, La La went from making a donation to completely turning around Anthony and his family's way of living:
"This kid has just changed my life. I found his story on Instagram, which is really weird because I see a lot of stuff on Instagram. But for some reason, I really took to his story. And at first, I just did a donation from me and Melo (Carmelo Anthony). And then I found out that he was a fan of Melo's. And as I got more into the story, I became connected with the family and talked to his mom and just wanted to know more about it.
"What we initially did at first was, I found out he was doing a little physical therapy at home, but he wasn't really getting the care he needed [since] certain insurances don't provide certain things. So what we did was we transferred all his doctors now to Miami Children's Hospital, someone from D.Wade's team helped us to make that transition. So now we have all the best doctors trying to at least give him a shot at trying to get better."
But La La didn't stop there; she'd go on to willingly expense most of Anthony's needs, while also using some of her celebrity connections to further assist in Superman's needs:
"I reached out to Kia (Motors Corporation) because I knew Lebron had his deal with Kia, and they were so kind enough to, with no questions asked, to donate a van. So his family got the van this week so he could get to his appointments. Before then, when [his mom] would have to take him places, she would have to go through the insurance two weeks ahead of time and she'd spend more time than none just trying to get a ride. She would be outside and the van would never come pick him up and he'd never be able to get to his appointments and where he'd need to go. So her having a van was really key.
I've gotten so close to his family and with him. I flew down for his birthday [this weekend]. I've never been this connected to one person before because we help a lot of people, but this was just something so different. He has changed my life. It's really an unexplainable thing. I explain it by saying, 'It's God' because I found this person on Instagram and I see stuff like this on Instagram all the time, you know what I mean? But I'm just really so, so connected."
Since going viral, Superman Anthony's story has also inspired others, including La La's husband and NBA Knicks' star, Carmelo Anthony, who has Instagrammed several photos of Superman, with his most recent one thanking the young boy for being his "hero."
Other celebrities who have been impacted by Superman's triumphant battle includes rappers Fetty Wap and Flo-Rida, both of whom La La admits were Superman's favorite rappers before his accident:
"Some of the most unexpected people have reached out to help! I don't even know [rapper] Flo-Rida like that, we actually have a relationship now because of what he did. But when I tell you this man reached out to me and drove 45 minutes, didn't sleep, went to the hospital and was there all day, took pictures, brought $1000 gift cards from Toys R Us, and he had bought custom t-shirts for the whole family that said 'Superman Anthony' with his face on it. Who does that? It was just amazing. The kind of people that really stepped up to the plate. It's just amazing."
[Tweet ""You don't have to look for help. When people want to help, they'll find you." -@Lala"]
Similar to Fetty, Superman Anthony was born with an eye defect as well. Called "Retinopathy of Prematurity," ROP is a disease that occurs in many premature babies and causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina. The growth can cause detachment from the back of the eye and, needless to say, Anthony suffered blindness in one eye and wears a prosthetic one in place of it.
"When Fetty Wap heard him, I told Fetty that he was Superman's favorite artist before the incident. He sent a nice video. I found that, when people find it in their hearts [to give], they'll find you. You don't have to hound people or reach out to them or do that. People will find you and want to help, which has been amazing."
La La also explained to those asking why she feels the need to go so hard for Anthony's ongoing care, despite having already raised a good chunk of change for his family. She addressed people's constant questioning of celebrities who ask for assistance in situations like these:
"It's just funny sometimes because when you're a celebrity and when you ask people for donations or try to raise money, they're like 'Oh, why can't you [pay for it?]' And they don't realize how much money it takes. I've contributed a lot out of my own pocket for this kid. Transportation to get to his appointments, his doctors switched, his wheelchair rushed to be made, getting the wheelchair lift to be put in the van. I don't care about a checklist, but when you ask people to donate, their reaction is, 'Why can't you?' It takes a village.
Anthony needs 24-hour care, so his mom had to give up her job, she's with him all the time and gets everything for him because the nurses at times don't even show up. So she has to watch him all through the night and not sleep at all, so she had to give up her job. So the donations are really to help keep all of that going. And she has three other kids. But man, people have been so generous with their help over the last few weeks and it's been amazing."
Although grateful to have been able to learn more about Anthony and his condition, La La did admit that her time with him has helped her empathize with other people in similar situations, whose stories are lesser known:
"It is sad to me that he was basically sent home from the hospital to kind of just die. But when you start making calls on behalf of me and Melo and down in Miami, D.Wade's assistant making calls to help us out, now all of a sudden everybody moves differently. It's just sad for all the families who don't have insurance, or people that are calling around and pushing for them.
[Tweet ""It's sad to me. He was basically sent home to just die." - @Lala on #SupermanAnthony"]
"I saw today, someone donated, I don't know who it was, $5000 on his page, which was just amazing. Even $5, 10 people donate $5, that stuff adds up. It just starts adding up."
So what's next for the two new best friends?
Well, you can expect this to be a friendship of a lifetime for La, who admits that she's already made plans to see #TeamSuperman again. This time, she is sending all of his siblings, including baby brother Willie who originally rescued the kid hero, to New York City!
"My plan is, I'm going to go there often. Actually, Kiyan's birthday is actually coming up, and I'm going to bring his two brothers up to New York for his birthday. They need love and attention and they need to get out the house a little bit. You know, it must be hard to see your brother like that everyday."
Phenomenal! A major salute to La La and those helping out others in similar situations. If you want to donate to Superman Anthony and his family, you can go to his GoFundMe page here!
Also find out more about Superman Anthony by visiting his Instagram page.