Whether it's fair or not, the public has largely made up its mind about Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The ultra-talented, ultra-physical Suh has a reputation. It's a reputation that has been established by his peers -- who have twice named him the league's dirtiest player -- and propagated by the league and the media.

Away from the football field, Suh keeps the public at an arm's length. He's an intensely private individual who only allows a few people into his inner circle.

Maybe that's what makes Suh's relationship with Isaac Barchus so unique.

Isaac suffers from a rare auto-inflammatory disease only recently identified as CANDLE Syndrome. The medication required to treat the condition has significantly stunted his growth. At nine years old, he stands just 3-foot-6 and weighs only 40 pounds.

"He's not growing," Isaac's father Steve Barchus said. "He's in a lot of pain much of the time. He's on a lot of medications to keep him stable, a lot of experimental drugs right now. He goes out to the National Institute of Health every month for treatment."

Isaac's idol is the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh, dating back to the lineman's time with the University of Nebraska. The pair first met through the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

"Over the years, there have been a lot of people trying to make connections between Isaac and Ndamukong," Steve said. "It just never really worked out with his disease situation and things. When Make-A-Wish came about, that was the first time we had a chance to meet him."

Isaac and his family flew up to Detroit late last year as the guests of Suh and the Lions organization. They attended practice, met with the team and watched the Lions host the Indianapolis Colts from Suh's suite.