SHELBY, Ohio – On the outside, he looks like any other pre-teen kid, obsessed with playing basketball.
But his biggest life battle is not on a basketball court.
Brennan Lewis, 12, of Shelby was born with a rare and severe skin condition called ichthyosis.
Brennan says, "It hurts really bad and I can get really hot and dizzy and kind of like tired."
On the day he was born, mom Denise Lewis says, "He actually reminded me of a burn victim. He had pieces, chunks of skin missing. He was bright red."
The genetic skin disorder causes dry, scaly skin so thick that it doesn’t allow Brennan to sweat.
It also causes him to blister very easily, from the slightest friction.
His dad Paul Lewis said, "That was one of my first questions, was whether he would be able to play sports or not."
Paul and Denise say it was important for them to treat their son like his older and younger siblings, allowing the 6th-grader to play sports, even with stares from strangers and reluctance from other players scared to touch him.
Denise says, "Sometimes, I'm really good with it. I will stop, I will educate. I carry cards around with me and it says I was born with ichthyosis. I'm not contagious."
Brennan’s daily routine includes a spray water bottle to treat overheating and various products to help alleviate dryness and pain.
"The worst days are probably when he has a lot of blisters, a lot of open spots,” said Denise.
Still, this sports fanatic will be competing in a regional free-throw competition in just a few days, proving to himself and to others that he is a fighter.
Paul Lewis says, "We always hope and pray that there is a cure for this at some point in his lifetime."
Brennan adds, "I still play as hard as I can."
There is no cure for ichthyosis and the condition is expected to get worse as Brennan ages.
His parents say they will continue their mission to educate others about the disease and help raise money for research.