Zach Lederer was just a kid, really, but with his illness and determination he became more than that, a force of character and courage and "just a kid" who inspired athletes, Hollywood stars and ordinary people facing the ravages of cancer.
He had been taken off life support in January but not before a picture of him flexing his muscles shortly after surgery for brain cancer went viral in 2012, becoming an emblem of a young man's fight and the inspiration for "Zaching" against cancer.
Lederer died on Tuesday, The Baltimore Sun reported, and a tribute to his impact could be seen in the candles held and tears shed in a tribute to him at the Comcast Center in College Park shortly after the announcement that he had been taken. Lederer had been a manager for the University of Maryland basketball team. He was 20.
"Everyone is taking their lead from Zachary," Delegate Elizabeth Bobo, Lederer's grandmother, told Patch in January. "It has been that way since we learned his brain cancer returned two years ago.
"He's loving every minute in life he has. He had no complaints with all the treatment he's been through. He's determined to have the best life he can. With him doing that, how can we do otherwise?"
Coach Mark Turgeon told the Sun recently, "I got an email from somebody who said, 'He's only 20 years old, and he's touched more people than some people who live to be 80.'"
The Zaching Against Cancer Facebook Page is a mosaic of cancer patients "Zaching," holding their arms in muscle poses and determination to beat the disease, and words of encouragement for Lederer and others facing such challenges.
A crowd from the University of Maryland community gathered at 11 p.m. Tuesday around the Testudo statue in front of the Comcast Center, the Sun reported.
Christine Lederer, reached at the family's Frederick Road home Tuesday night, had difficulty putting her emotions into words.
"Thanks to everyone who has supported Zachary in his battle," she told the paper. "He left a big footprint."