To read on Wicked Local Somerville website:
Somervile High School pair brought together through sports
Football brings Isaiah Lombardo and Wilbens Vincent together, when it’s not putting them at friendly odds. After Vincent teased Lombardo at Somerville High School’s Class Day about beating him at the Madden football video game, Lombardo struck back at the Highlander cornerback’s performance on the field.
“Wilbens just stands there and lets them get a touchdown,” Lombardo said. “He’s not that good at tackling.”
“What? I try my hardest to tackle them,” Vincent said. “The kids are twice my size.”
The pair taunt each other with the comfort of years of companionship. It’s markedly different from what Lombardo, who has Down’s syndrome, has heard from less friendly students. He’s been bullied since middle school, called a “retard” and was suspended last year for four days after he punched a student who was calling him names and had been picking on him since sixth grade.
Fearful the other student would retaliate and hit Lombardo back, Vincent stepped in and broke up the fight. Lombardo said Vincent was angry at him for losing his cool and teared up after the fight. But usually a few words from Vincent deterred students who tried to mock Lombardo.
“I stepped in and I told them it is not nice to pick on others. Because me, I don’t like drama and I don’t like bullies either so I just try to tell them to back off,” Vincent said.
“He sticks up for me,” Lombardo said. “He’s nice, he’s kind, and he’s a good friend to have around and I hope I can have a friendship with him through college, through all my life.”
Lombardo and Vincent have known each other for years. They live across the street from each other in West Somerville, Vincent in the Clarendon Hill Projects and Lombardo the Clarendon Hill Towers.
Lombardo has long loved sports but has had to overcome many physical obstacles to participate in them. He weighed only three pounds when he was born 10 weeks early, according to his mother, Angela. At an early age he was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and Hirschsprung’s disease, a condition that affects the large intestine. She said with Down’s syndrome, Lombardo has had to overcome vision problems, hearing problems, breathing issues, and developmental and learning delays.
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