Ben Breedlove died on the evening of December 25, 2011.
He was 18 years old.
Ben grew up in Austin, Texas with his parents, older sister Ally and younger brother Jake. When he was young, Ben was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a condition in which thickened heart muscles cause the heart to work harder. At 4 years old, Ben had a life-threatening seizure; the first time, in Ben’s words, that he ‘cheated death.’
Ben talks about his first brush with death:
“There was this big bright light above me…I couldn’t make out what it was because it was so bright. I told my Mom, ‘Look at the bright light,’ and pointed up. She said she didn’t see anything. There were no lights on in this hall. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. And I couldn’t help but smile. I had no worries at all, like nothing else in the world mattered… I cannot even begin to describe the peace, how peaceful it was. I will never forget that feeling or that day.”
In May of 2009, he had a pacemaker inserted.
In November 2010, Ben created the OurAdvice4You channel on YouTube (38 videos, 61,000 subscribers) to give out teen-aged relationship advice, and in May, 2011, he launched BreedloveTV as a companion channel (17 videos, 31,500 subscribers) to answer questions messaged to him from teenagers around the world.
In the summer of 2011, during a routine tonsillectomy, Ben suffered cardiac arrest, the second time he cheated death.
On December 6, 2011, Ben cheated death for the third and final time, when he passed out in school and awoke surrounded by paramedics preparing to use a defibrillator to revive him.
Ben recalls his dream or vision after this third brush with death, where he woke up in a silent, while room without walls where he “felt that same peaceful feeling I had when I was 4 – and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was wearing a really nice suit, and so was my fav rapper, Kid Cudi… I then looked at myself in the mirror. I was proud of myself, off my entire life, of everything I have done. It was the BEST feeling.”
Ben said in the dream, he thought of lyrics from a Kid Cudi song that said, ‘When will the fantasy end, when will the heaven begin?’ Kid Cudi sat him down at a glass desk and told him, ‘Go now.’
“I didn’t want to leave that place. I wish I NEVER woke up.”
A third YouTube channel was created by Ben on December 18, 2011, a week before he died, titled TotalRandomness512. This channel hosted the two-part video, “This is My Story,” which can be seen below (over 13 million views).
In them, Ben sits silently in a room, using note cards to tell his story. At the end of the videos, Ben asks: “Do you believe in angels or God?” then answers with a smile, “I do.”
On the evening of Christmas Day, 2011, according to one of Ben’s friends, Ben received a new video camera for Christmas and went outside, anxious to try it. He experienced light-headedness and shortness of breath and passed out in the yard. His parents called 911 and administered CPR until the EMS arrived. All resuscitation attempts failed and Ben was pronounced dead at the hospital.
He was 18 years old.
His parents agreed to donate his organs and tissue in order to help others. “Ben would have wanted to continue helping and inspiring others,”
commented his mother.
News of his death was covered by media outlets around the world, including Fox, CBS and ABC News, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, MTV and People Magazine. His funeral on December 29th was streamed live on the KXAN website.
Kid Cudi wrote that he “broke down” when he saw Bens’ videos. “This has really touched my heart in a way I can’t describe; this is why I do what I do. Why I write my life, and why I love you all so much. We love you, Ben. Forever. Thank you for loving me. …To Ben’s family, you raised a real hero, he’s definitely mine. You have my love.”
“It’s exciting to know that Ben planted a seed in people’s minds
to begin thinking about things that really do matter in life,”
Ben’s mother told ABC News at Ben’s Memorial Service.
“You know, we all have hope. Everyone has challenges,
but we have a real hope and he saw that.
He felt the peace of God when he had those glimpses
into heaven and heavenly presence.”
On January 1, 2013, Ben, along with 4 others, was honored on a Donate Life float in the 124th Tournament of Roses Parade.
Today, October 28, 2013, the book “When Will the Heaven Begin: This is Ben Breedlove’s Story” by Ben’s sister Ally Breedlove and Ken Abraham will be released as a celebration of his life.
Eternal rest, Ben Breedlove, and may perpetual light shine upon you.
You will be remembered by so many of us with love.
You are an inspiration to millions.
Your have gifted life to others.
Be well, Ben. Be well.
And yes, I believe in God and in angels.
And I know now that Heaven begins with you.