Shelby Township boy inspired many during his 11 years of life

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 28, 2019

 Brady Youngblood laughs while enjoying the outdoors. Brady died Oct. 6 at 11 years old.

Brady Youngblood laughs while enjoying the outdoors. Brady died Oct. 6 at 11 years old.

Photo provided by Erin Youngblood


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A Shelby Township family is holding memories of their son close, as they said goodbye to him Oct. 10 at just 11 years old.

Brady Youngblood, the son of Joe Youngblood and his wife, Erin Youngblood, passed away at home in his sleep from a diabetic seizure Oct. 6.

Joe Youngblood is the Shelby Township parks, recreation and maintenance director.

Brady was born June 10, 2008, and attended Glen Peters School in Macomb Township. Before Brady was born, doctors informed Joe and Erin that Brady would face many challenges in his life.

“We knew Brady would have some sort of special needs before he was born. He had malformations in his brain that were seen on an ultrasound and prenatal MRI, but doctors could not predict the severity. He was born premature by a few weeks and spent over three weeks in the NICU. He had surgery at 2 days old and 7 weeks old. He had a host of medical concerns, but overall he had a micro duplication on his first chromosome, which seems to be the causation between many of his medical complications,” Erin said in an email.

When Brady was born, Joe said, the first thought that ran through Joe’s mind was that he hoped Brady would make it.

“My first thought when Brady was born was that I hope he lived. When he was born, they whisked him away because he wasn’t breathing properly. A few days later, he had laryngomalacia surgery.” Joe said in an email.

Laryngomalacia is a congenital softening of the tissues of the larynx (voice box) above the vocal cords. The laryngeal structure is malformed and floppy, causing the tissues to fall over the airway opening and partially block it.

At age 3 1/2, Brady was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Joe and Erin would test him 12 times a day. Brady was nonverbal.

“Although he was nonverbal, we knew exactly what he was saying,” said Joe.

Despite facing many challenges, Brady always found a way to enjoy his life.

“Brady lived life to the fullest and he had the best 11 years any child could have had,”  said Joe.

Joe and Erin also have a daughter named Molly. She is 15 and a sophomore at Eisenhower High School. She is on the varsity dance team and very active at her dance studio, Suzette’s Masters of Dance in Shelby Township.

Brady’s favorite things to do were to play outside, watch Molly dance and play with his friend Sam Raab, a dance teacher at a different studio who started a dance class for students with special needs. They were given the chance to dance at competitions with Underground Dance Company.

“Seeing him on the big stage with a packed audience was the most incredible thing,” said Erin.

She said he loved birthday parties too.

“Watching him listen to ‘Happy Birthday’ at his parties was always a treat too, to see his smile creep across his face,” said Erin.

Brady loved being with his family, and he would do anything to be outside — no matter the season or weather. He loved swimming in pools and going to the splash pad in the summer. He loved cider mills in the fall. He loved sledding down his street in the winter, and he loved the football fields, high school track and playgrounds in the spring. He loved being anywhere his dad was, and he loved dancing with his sister and Raab, and he loved car rides with his mom and sister, and more than anything he loved being at school and riding the school bus.

“Brady loved life and lived every moment to its fullest. Nothing was small or ordinary to him,” said Erin.

Erin shared some of her most memorable moments with Brady.

“I loved when he was being silly. He has the greatest laugh and smile. Little things or sayings could make him laugh, and if anyone got in trouble, especially his sister, he would laugh uncontrollably. Then it would make her a little mad, and he would laugh even more. He got so excited to do simple things like go to McDonald’s or Culver’s — he had celiac disease, so those were the best gluten-friendly fast food places, and that was the biggest treat for him,” said Erin.

She said what she and Joe loved most about Brady were his spirit and his love for adventure.

“Life was a big challenge, but also a big adventure. He truly never wasted a single day. He was a fighter and worked hard to accomplish things,” she said.

“Be kind to one another and never judge a book by its cover, because Brady was unique in so many ways, but he used his uniqueness to change the world around him and inspire every single person he met. He is our hero and a true hero to so many,” said Erin.

Joe also shared some of his most memorable moments with Brady.

“Brady lived life to the fullest, and I will never forget all our trips up north to Grandma and Bubba’s cottage. I also will never forget the time Brady and I spent at the local farms and the local parks. Brady loved being outside more than anything,” said Joe.

He said the community really reached out during this tough time for the family. The funeral Mass took place at St. John Vianney Catholic Church.

“The prayers we received and the amazing support at the church truly showed how much Brady was loved,” said Joe.

Joe Youngblood’s co-workers purchased a memorial bench in Brady’s name that will be placed outside the Shelby Township Activities Center on 21 Mile Road.

Erin said people can help by continuing to be a community of love and support.

“He had over 2,000 people come to the funeral home and over 600 attend his funeral Mass. He was loved, he inspired, and I know his spirits will live on forever in our family, our community, his amazing school and everyone whose life he ever touched,” said Erin.