VIRGINIA

Young RGIII fan writes letter, receives surprise

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LOUDOUN, Va. (WJLA) -- An 8-year-old in Loudoun County child got the thrill of his young life this week when Redskins star Robert Griffin III read a letter he'd written on national television.

On Tuesday, ESPN premiered the documentary "Will to Win," which is about Griffin and his journey to the NFL. In the documentary, Griffin and his wife Rebecca are seen reading a letter that came with a wedding gift a fan sent them.

The letter and gift were from the Gambardella family -- specifically 8-year old Ryan Gambardella, who had no idea Griffin had even received the note -- let alone know that he was going to read it on national television.

The entire Gambardella family loves the Redskins, but Ryan may be the biggest fan in the family. He loves that he shares the same initials as Griffin and likes to go by the name "RG8," since he is 8 years old.

Ryan says he loves Griffin so much that he wanted to get him a gift for his July wedding.

"He decided on a hamper so RG3 could throw his dirty jerseys in after his practices and games," said Ryan's mother Jennifer.

Not only do Griffin and his wife read Ryan's letter and mention the hamper in the documentary, but they are also seen writing a thank you note to him.

The family received the note in the mail on Wednesday.

Even though the Gambardellas had no idea Ryan would be featured in Tuesday's documentary, they had planned to watch it for weeks. But then they forgot.

"I temporarily forgot about it," Jennifer said. "I took the kids to the pool. And I was sitting there watching them and all of a sudden my phone started blowing up."

Ryan's older sister Maddy says she tried to tell him the news.

"First he actually didn't believe me," she said. "But then I kept saying, go ask mommy, go ask mommy, and I felt really excited for him."

The Gambardellas didn't get a chance to see the segment Ryan was in until ABC7 showed it to them.

"Wow" and "I'm speechless" were about the only things, Ryan, Maddy, and younger sister Lexi could say as they smiled grins a mile wide.

Ryan's parents say this shows why Griffin deserves to be their son's hero.

"He is just a cut above, I mean he is a class act," Jennifer said.

"This is just another example of the special person that he is," said father Chris.

"I mean, that's really amazing," Ryan said. "That's the biggest thing that ever happened to me in my life."

The documentary will re-air this Saturday at 2 p.m. on ABC7.

As for Ryan, he turns 9 next week. And yes, he plans to change his nickname to "RG9."

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