The daughter of an NHL superstar, a high school wrestling coach, a devastating diagnosis – these are the components in a story of unwavering love.
E60 presents A Love Story, debuting Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with a simultaneous release on ESPN+ tells the remarkable tale.
As ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap reports, Brianna LaFontaine and Randel McCoy grew up just a few miles from each other on New York’s Long Island. But they were in different worlds. She was raised in affluence, with a father, Pat LaFontaine, who was a superstar in the NHL. He was raised working class by his single mother and then, after she died when he was seven, by his grandmother.
But still when Brianna and Randel met, they became one. They were in love and inseparable but then suddenly came a devastating diagnosis of ALS for McCoy. The life together they had imagined would now be an impossibility but their love for each other would prove to be indestructible.
“There’s a sports connection to this story but like most human interest stories, it’s far more than that,” said John Minton III, producer of the piece. “This feature is about finding a soulmate and what happens when your love for that person is put to the ultimate test. Brianna and Randel are so young and Randel in particular is so young to be diagnosed with a disease like ALS. They were confronted with this reality just six months into their relationship.
“The decisions that these two were forced to make and the way in which they made them, has made me want to be a better person – better husband, better father — and I hope others who watch it feel the same way.”
The one-hour television edition of E60 also will include a feature on two NHL hockey goaltenders – Elvis Merzlikins and Matiss Kivlenieks. Originally from Latvia, both ended up playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The piece will chronicle their friendship as well as Kivlenieks’ tragic death this past July 4th in a fireworks accident. Merzlikins and his wife, both of whom witnessed the passing of their friend, recount their experiences and why they have chosen to give their newborn son the middle name Matiss.
Pat LaFontaine’s former team, the New York Islanders, will visit the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. Tuesday live on ESPN.
More on A Love Story on ESPN Front Row.