William Perry gets Super Bowl ring back
When Tracy Forrest overheard her 10-year-old son Cliff on the phone trying to explain to someone that he wanted to give William Perry his Super Bowl XX ring back, she could tell Cliff was having a hard time being believed.
After all, what 10-year-old would give away something like a Super Bowl ring for nothing?
So Tracy got on the phone and lent an adult voice to her child's gesture of goodwill and generosity. That gesture culminated in Chicago on Saturday when Cliff handed the ring to the former Chicago Bears defensive tackle, whose battle against Guillain-Barre syndrome has been well documented.
"My son said he knew he had problems," Tracy said Monday. "I myself have MS, and my son Googled and saw Perry also had an autoimmune disease.
"He said Perry lost the ring through hard times, and that he only had one ring. He said, 'I want him to have the ring back.' That's pretty special for a 10-year-old to want to do that."
Cliff used money he had been saving for college to purchase the ring after seeing it at Mickey Mantle's restaurant and sports bar in New York City. The establishment also has a sports memorabilia section. Cliff Forrest Sr., who owns Rosebud Mining Company in Pittsburgh, said the ring was purchased for $8,500.
The Chicago Sun-Times first reported the story.
It's not known whether Perry sold or auctioned off the ring to help pay for medical expenses.
"When Cliff saw the ring, he said he had to have it," Tracy said. "Once I saw the price, I said, 'Absolutely not. We're not buying the ring.'
"He ended up taking money out of his savings account. We told him it was money for college, but he ended up getting the ring."
It wasn't a love of the Bears that inspired Cliff, whose family lives in Pittsburgh. Cliff's motivation was his love for sports memorabilia.
"My brother was killed in an auto accident at the age of 40," Tracy said. "When he was Cliff's age, he collected cards.
"When he passed away five years ago, his wife gave my son a big collection of cards, and that sparked his interest. It started with cards, and he got into signed baseballs and jerseys."
Cliff was able to add to his collection on Saturday. Although he wasn't looking for anything in return, Cliff received two autographed Bears jerseys and some cards from an appreciative Perry, who was conducting an autograph-signing session.
"It was exciting," Cliff Jr. said. "He looked really happy. He said, 'Thanks.'
"It's what I wanted to do. When I Googled Mr. Perry after I got the ring, I saw he had the disease and went through rough times. And I thought he needed it more than I did."
"It was a great experience," Cliff Sr. said.
Roman Modrowski is an editor for ESPNChicago.com.