- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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After the Twitter hashtag #TebowCallMatt trended nationally Monday night, Tebow had what he called an "awesome" and inspirational talk with the hospitalized 17-year-old. Hardy plays football at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, N.Y.
Two others, Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, were killed in the crash on Saturday. The driver of the other vehicle reportedly was under the influence of alcohol.
"Anytime something like that happens to me, it's humbling. You feel almost not worthy of being wanted to talk to somebody," Tebow said. "You think of what have I done to deserve an opportunity to try to encourage a kid like that. It's worth everything and it's awesome. It's better than any touchdown I'll ever score."
While Tebow said he doesn't check Twitter that often, he got a call telling him what was happening and decided to make the teenager's wish come true. He got a number from Twitter so he could reach Hardy at the hospital, and before he could chat with him, he had to prove it wasn't a prank call to Hardy's friends.
"It took a few minutes to convince them," Tebow said. "(I said) I promise it's really me."
Tebow called Hardy after 9 p.m. ET and said he was asked to pray on the phone, which he said showed how inspirational the chat was.
"We talked for a while and he was just in awesome spirits for what had taken place. He was just an inspiration to me," Tebow said. "You call him, trying to encourage him (and) trying to say a few words of inspiration, but the way his attitude was and his focus, it was just awesome.
"The support from his friends around him was just so cool. You could hear them on the phone. They had it on speaker. For dealing with everything that he's dealing with, losing his friends (and) his girlfriend, and the injuries that he has, it just puts everything into perspective to know that all this trivial stuff right here, we care about it, but it really doesn't matter."
Another survivor of the crash, Bailey Wind, had a similar campaign on Twitter. Her hashtag #MissyCallBailey was aimed to get Olympic gold medalist swimmer Missy Franklin to give her a call. Franklin tweeted that she left a voice message for Wind and hoped to speak to her.
After the conversation with Hardy, Tebow tweeted: "Thanks to everyone who got #TebowCallMatt trending & helped connect us. Matt truly inspired me. God bless y'all."
According to the Berkshire Eagle, Hardy was upgraded to stable condition at Albany Medical Center on Monday night with a concussion and broken bones. Tebow was thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with a fan who is going through trying times.
"It keeps everything in perspective and it was definitely the best thing that I've been able to do in a while," Tebow said.
14hBy Ian O'Connor