ESPN’s Monday Night Football (8 ET) showcases a Week 3 showdown between NFC East rivals the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles’ fanbase is legendary for its devotion. Still, there might not be anyone rooting harder for Philadelphia tonight than Giovanni Hamilton. The Muncy, Pa., teen has turned his curiosity and fandom into a popular and insightful podcast featuring interviews with Eagles stars.
Hamilton, 13, has a rare condition called Schwartz-Jampel syndrome (SJS). According to ESPN.com Eagles beat reporter Tim McManus, Hamilton’s mother, Shannon, “likens SJS to a combination of muscular dystrophy and dwarfism.”
Hamilton has had more than a dozen surgeries.
Monday Night Countdown (6 ET, ESPN) feature reporter Michelle Beisner-Buck and producer Miriam Greenfield visited Hamilton for a profile airing tonight. They share some insight into the storytelling with Front Row.
Ahhhhhhhh yeah - I’m lucky enough to spend my Sunday with the one and only @Eagles Super Fan and podcaster @GioThePodcaster - we’ve got some week one predictions about the @Eagles matchup vs the @AtlantaFalcons - check it out!! pic.twitter.com/p2ehaJWd0c— MichelleBeisnerBuck (@MichelleBeisner) September 12, 2021
Why was it important to tell Hamilton’s story?
MBB: Giovanni is a bright light, and despite some unimaginable personal adversities, he chooses to see the positive in every situation. The goodness in his soul and his passion for football, specifically the Eagles, made his story an easy fit for our MNF feature platform.MG: He’s a 13-year old who has overcome so many challenges in life and achieved his dreams by being kind, authentic, and vulnerable. He’s also put in the work to be successful.
What angle did you take on profiling him? How did you arrive at that?
MBB: We really wanted to showcase what a special young man Gio is and how he’s captured the hearts of Philly fans and people everywhere. Highlighting his love for the Eagles, his introduction to [current Indianapolis Colts quarterback] Carson Wentz, and how he’s turned his passion into a podcast, were all important elements for this feature. And, of course, how Gio continues to battle through a rare genetic condition (SJS) with a smile on his face was the heart of this piece.
How long did the profile take to come together?
MBB: Miriam pitched this story in 2019 and it finally got green lit for this season. Cameras followed Gio at training camp, and we spent the day with Gio and his family in Muncy, Pa. Editing, writing, tracking, and wrapping the piece, well, that’s countless hours, but worth every second.
MG: I reached out to Giovanni’s mother Shannon in July. We spent time with Giovanni and his family at their home in Muncy and on the road in Philadelphia at training camp. Also, we interviewed Giovanni’s biggest fans – the Philadelphia Eagles players.
What do you hope viewers learn from watching this profile?
MBB: That you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. That anything is possible. That people need, now more than ever, to choose kindness.
MG: Be kind.
What story did not make the final cut that you’d like to mention?
MBB: There’s always so much that gets left on the cutting room floor. I would have loved to include some clips of his “Kindness Huddles” – something he created as a result of being cyber bullied – but I will be mentioning this in my tag out of the piece.
MG: After Giovanni posted two photos of himself on social media wearing his new No. 2 Wentz jersey that he received from the Indianapolis Colts, he was cyber bullied and received threats. He took that negative experience and made it positive when he started a new initiative called Giovanni’s Kindness Huddles. The purpose of the huddles is to spotlight the effect bullying has and share ways to help yourself or someone you know that has been a victim of bullying.