On Monday night, late night television host Jimmy Kimmel took devoted 13 minutes during the opening monologue of his show to talk about the emotional, dramatic birth of his son Billy last week, and the open-heart surgery his newborn had to undergo just three days after being born.
Per CNN, Kimmel’s son Billy was born with a heart condition in which one pulmonary valve was completely blocked and there was a small hole in the wall between the left and right sides of his heart.
Coincidentally, Olympic snowboarder Shaun White suffers from the same heart condition, and came by Kimmel’s show for a poignant interview on the effect it has had on his life.
Given just how dominant he has been throughout his snowboarding career that started at a young age — White made his X Games debut when he was only 13 — many snowboard fans might not realize that Shaun White struggled as a kid with this heart defect.
“I had a big scare when I was younger, where I passed out on a soccer field,” White told Kimmel at one point in the interview. “And the community that [my family] lived in was like (to White’s parents), ‘That’s it, that’s the final straw.’ … Everyone was so worried about my heart.”
Ultimately, White told Kimmel that incident on the soccer field had more to do with lack of hydration than anything else, and credited his parents for letting him pursue his athletic dreams despite his heart condition.
He also confirmed to Kimmel that he is focused on preparing for the 2018 Winter Olympics and hinted that — with the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics — he may attempt to become a two-sport Olympian.
“You are an inspiration to a lot of families who go through this situation,” Kimmel told White during a very heartfelt moment in the interview. “It makes me believe that my son, too, is going to win Olympic medals for the United States of America.”
The entire interview is well worth watching, and includes a heart-warming anecdote from White about how he still holds onto a lot of socks from when he was a newborn because it was all his mother could dress him in while he was in an incubator in the hospital.
And, if you’re interested in listening to Kimmel’s prolonged, touching monologue about his new son, check it out below.
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