A mum gave her son a goodnight kiss before she found him dead in bed the next morning.
Ryan Barrett, 17, had gone to bed after telling his mum Diane he was tired, and that he loved her.
But the next morning, when she went to wake him, Diane found her son dead in his bed.
Ryan, from Liverpool, was a passionate Liverpool FC fan and animal lover who dreamed of becoming a referee, the Liverpool Echo reports.
He had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare condition affecting connective tissue, epilepsy and was on the autistic spectrum.
Diane, 49, said Ryan’s disability meant he would often be in pain, but he was determined to continue playing football like his hero Daniel Sturridge.
She said: “We just had a normal night on the Wednesday, watching TV and laughing.
“Ryan had been playing football and when I picked him up he said he’d scored a hat trick.
“After football he had a bath and I said ‘Come and watch Family Guy’. At 12.30 he said to me ‘Mum I’m going to bed, I’m tired’.
“I gave him a kiss and said ‘goodnight, I love you’, and he said ‘I love you’.
“The next morning I went into his room and it was just quiet, and I found him dead in his bed.”
A post-mortem was unable to establish the cause of Ryan’s death, after his mum found him on Thursday, February 23.
Diane, who was Ryan’s full-time carer, said he was determined to live a normal life despite his disability.
He studied sport for a year at Greenbank College and hoped to become a referee in disability football, but switched to catering because his condition meant he was unable to pursue his dream.
Diane said Ryan blossomed when he went to Broadgreen School at the age of 11 after a difficult time at primary school.
She said: “He had the time of his life. He’d say to me ‘Mum I’ve never been so happy as the time I was there’.
“He just wanted to be a normal child and he was in the football team, the Boccia team (a paralympic sport similar to bowls) and even swimming.
“His joints would swell and he’d be in pain, and sometimes he’d have to use his wheelchair afterwards, but he wanted to play sports.
“It was Catch 22, if we stopped him from doing it then physically he’d be in less pain, but he would have become depressed and upset.”
Ryan’s biggest love was Liverpool FC – and he told his mum he believed he was his idol Daniel Sturridge when he played football.
Although Ryan never met Sturridge, Diane said he was delighted to meet two more sporting heroes, MMA star Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett and former Liverpool FC striker Robbie Fowler.
She said: “He met Robbie Fowler in November when we went looking for nice clothes in Maze Clothing on Allerton Road. Ryan wanted to be normal and he wanted to be fashionable.
“Robbie walked in and Ryan said to me ‘Mum, it’s God!’ He was absolutely lovely. He might have been busy but he had all the time in the world for him.
“It was all over Ryan’s Facebook – he said to me ‘Mum I’ve never had so many likes on a picture!’ He had Robbie’s autograph taped to his television.
“I don’t think Robbie Fowler knew what he’d done for him that day.”
Ryan was also devoted to animals and became a vegetarian at the age of 10.
Diane said: “He rescued and fostered a fair few in his 17 years, especially cats and dogs.
“He’d even find birds in the street and he’d put them in the shed and we’d try and nurse them back to health.
“Last March we had a bad house fire and even though he was terrified and the house was full of smoke he rescued them all. He didn’t like anything to feel pain.
“He was a big animal activist. If I bought stuff he’d want to know it hadn’t been tested on animals.”
Diane said her caring son was also very protective of older sisters Alice, 22, and Gina, 24 and his friends.
She said: “He was great fun to be around. His eldest sister was on Ex on the Beach and he kept saying he was going to apply for the show to surprise her, but he was only joking.
“Some of his friends were more disabled than Ryan and their mums have phoned me and said Ryan would spend 20 minutes on the phone with them having a conversation, even though they could only say two or three words.
“Ryan would never leave anyone out. He was lovely. I know every mum says that about their child but he really was.
“No-one has had a bad word to say about him.”
Ryan’s funeral will take place at Anfield Crematorium on March 21 at 11.15am – everyone who attends has been asked to wear football shirts.