A strange, painful time for 10-year-old Caleb Taylor and his family

Front from left, Chandler and Caleb Taylor with, back from left, Bryant Hornets seniors Chris Rycraw, Jimi Easterling and Brandon Parish. By Rob Patrick

Suffering — whether it’s heartache, stress, mental anguish, physical pain or something else — is a part of this life. Everyone, from time to time, suffers to some extent.

And it’s easy to complain when it occurs, easy to get depressed about it, easy to say, “Why me?” In fact, it’s often difficult not to feel put upon even to the point of bitterness especially when it lingers.

Also, when we see suffering, particularly harsh suffering, happen to good people or to children, it often runs against our sense of justice. It just doesn’t seem right or fair.

But God can bring good from all things.[more]

A person’s pain provides an opportunity for others to see the faithfulness and hope and good humor of that person, despite their suffering, as an example to follow. It could also afford others an opportunity to show compassion, to help out, to express love; in short, to be Christ-like.

That brings us to the mysterious case of young Caleb Taylor.

A typical 10-year-old boy, Caleb is the son of Josh and Jerri Taylor of Bryant and the older brother of 9-year-old Chandler and Chloe, who just turned 1. The family has been in Bryant since August of 2008 when Josh moved here to become the pastor of a new Renovate Church.

A second baseman and pitcher in baseball and a lineman in football, Caleb has played every sport, a good little athlete. Last summer, he played baseball in the Bryant Athletic Association on a team coached by Jamie Easterling.

The members of the Bryant Hornets football team signed a football and presented it to Caleb Taylor before the Little Rock Central game.

In July, however, he was struck with strep throat and wound up in the hospital in Jonesboro. He spent a few days there and recovered. His parents brought him home and everything was back to normal.

But only briefly.

One day, Caleb started to stand up and couldn’t.

“He couldn’t walk,” Josh Taylor recalled. “He spent four days in Children’s Hospital and for the next 10 days he was confined to a wheelchair. They ran all kinds of MRI’s and x-rays and so forth and they weren’t able to find any answers.”

Some days weren’t as bad as others.

“He went through physical therapy, all those things, still nothing,” Josh said. “So, from July to the end of September, he still wasn’t able to do the things that a 10-year-old should normally be able to do. He wasn’t able to run, wasn’t able to participate in any kind of sports or activities. He missed out on fall baseball and football. Even after he was able to walk, he was still unable to run for some reason.”

Of course, not knowing the cause added to the anguish, particularly for the parents.

“All kinds of things run through your mind,” Josh acknowledged. “Is it some type of bone disease, muscle disease? Is it cancer? Is it multiple sclerosis? We went from top to bottom, every muscle and bone abnormality that’s possible and they found nothing whatsoever. They just kept eliminating possibilities of what it could be, starting with the most terrifying to the least and still nothing, no answers.”

Caleb seemed to be improving, however, through the physical therapy. Football season for the Bryant Hornets began in September and the Taylors would sit with the Easterlings along with Gary and Monica Parish at the top of the home bleachers and Caleb would root for senior quarterback Jimi Easterling, senior receiver Brandon Parish and the rest of the Hornets.

But more adversity struck Caleb before long.

“At the end of September, he began having these pains shooting through his right leg,” recalled his father. “That lasted for a few days and he got to where he just couldn’t even walk. So, then he spent nearly a month not being able to walk at all. He was in a wheelchair. He spent another four days in Children’s Hospital, spent another four days in Le Bonheur (Children’s Medical Center in Memphis) and no doctor seemed to be able to find out or figure out anything was wrong with him. I think over the course of the months, he had something around four or five MRI’s, CAT scans, x-rays, blood work. They’ve never been able to come up with any kind of diagnosis whatsoever. It was just kind of a mystery illness. They’d never heard of anything like that.

“They gave it a name when we left,” he added. “They said it was Chronic Idiopathic Pain. Basically, if you looked it up, it’s a pain that’s unexplainable. Idiopathic pain is pain that doesn’t have any specific origin or cause but it’s there.”

Despite that, however, Caleb, using a walker, and his folks continued to follow the Hornets.

“What we had to do was fold the walker up,” Josh explained. “He would hop on one leg all the way up the bleachers to sit up at the top.

“He’s a very mature 10-year-old, mature beyond his years,” he continued. “Sometimes, I regret that fact, but he is. He’s had to do some growing up especially this year because of everything he’s gone through. He’s really strong willed, very witty. He’s a comedian. He’s constantly laughing. He’s got a smile on his face all the time. People say that generically but I’m not kidding, the boy smiles about everything. He’s fun to be around.

“Through the whole ordeal, through the months of not being able to walk, hardly ever did you see him down. He just made the most of the situation. He’s got a walker with a seat. He’d go out and he’d sit on that seat and he’d still be throwing the baseball or the football with his brother out in the front yard. We’ve got a basketball court next to the church and he’d go out there with the walker and stand next to it and shoot the basketball. He made the most of his situation. I couldn’t be any more proud of him. He could’ve gotten down and just laid around and said, ‘Forget it, I’m not going to walk anymore.’ But he made a determination that he wasn’t going to allow what was going on to stop him from trying to be a kid as much as possible.”

As much as Caleb was a fan of Jimi and Brandon, they became fans of Caleb too. As Monica Parish put it, “People think Jimi was brave standing in there to throw passes while being chased by those 300-pound linemen or that Brandon was brave for going over the middle to catch passes, but those boys saw true bravery in Caleb.”

Jamie Easterling, along with Jimi and Brandon, became determined to find a way to give Caleb a boost. They got the team together and signed a football to present to him on the field before a game. They set it up with Josh and Jerri.

“I knew, earlier in the season, they were going to do it but (Caleb) had no idea,” Josh related. “We went to every home Bryant game and one away game. One game, he didn’t get to go to. They were going to do it that game but he just wasn’t able to go due to the pain that was in his legs that day. So they held out until the last game of the season. The excitement and the surprise on his face was . . . just to see the joy that they were thinking about him, made him really excited. That was a very nice gesture. They wanted to do something for him because he’d missed out on playing any of the fall sports and show him that he had their support.”

And, as it turns out, it’s going to be a thankful and merry Christmas in the Taylor house.

“He’s back to 90 percent or so with the strength in his legs,” Josh reported. “That’s just through weeks and weeks of physical therapy, and therapy at home and working with him and getting the strength back up. He’s doing good. He’s playing. He does pretty much everything that a 10-year-old does now.”

Josh Taylor acknowledged that it was faith and the kindness of folks like the Easterlings and Parishes that got the family through the ordeal.

“Just through prayers, with many family and friends that were praying for him,” he said. “We basically believe that the Lord intervened and did work in his life and just healed him. We have no other explanation.”

People prayed. And who knows? Perhaps someone that hadn’t prayed in a very long time offered one for the Taylors.

So, along with the compassion shown to Caleb and the admirable example he gave, that too would make his suffering — anyone’s suffering — far less senseless and random than it seems at first glance. It might’ve brought someone closer to God.


  1. Josh Taylor

    Thank you so very much for writing this story on behalf of my son Caleb. He is truly an inspiration to all who are acquainted with him. We are thanking the Lord that he is getting stronger everyday and that he is able to be a kid again. Truly a wonderful story.

    God Bless,
    Josh Taylor

  2. Shannon

    I know the struggles you guys went through and this is such a touching story about Caleb. God Bless that he’s getting better and better!!!

  3. Mary Taylor


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