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13-year-old Nationals fan who met Harper, threw out first pitch dies of cancer

Wednesday - 7/31/2013, 11:04am  ET

Gavin Rupp talks with Bryce Harper after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the start of the Nationals and San Diego Padres game at Nationals Park on July 5. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON - A Virginia 13-year-old who threw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game earlier this season died Tuesday after a battle with brain cancer.

His death comes less than a month after he spent quality time with his favorite baseball player, Bryce Harper.

Gavin Rupp, a Nats fan from Ashburn with a passion for baseball, was first diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. After battling the disease, he found out last month his tumor was inoperable, The Washington Post reports.

Rupp threw out the first pitch at the July 5 Nationals game and got to meet Harper after the organization learned of his diagnosis. In fact, Rupp got to do more than meet the outfielder the two spent an hour together before the Nats faced the San Diego Padres.

They talked about baseball parks and pregame rituals and exchanged autographs, reports.

Harper signed a hat, mitt and bat for the 13-year-old. Then, last year's National League Rookie of the Year asked Rupp to sign a baseball.

"I'll put this in my locker," Harper said, according to

Rupp's death shook the 20-year-old Harper, and he took to Twitter Tuesday to express his grief and condolences for the Rupp family.

After their first meeting, Harper called Rupp "a hero" on Twitter. He also wrote Rupp's name on a placard at the Home Run Derby as part of MLB's Stand Up 2 Cancer campaign, The Washington Post reports.

Harper added on Twitter that he will be playing for Rupp, a "warrior."

The Nats learned of Rupp through Kyle's Kamp, which raises money for Children's National Medical Center's cancer research. To find out more, click here.

(h/t Twitchy)

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