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Mattie and Jeni Stepanek, and "Messenger"

Good Morning America has a touching tribute to Mattie Stepanek, the Maryland boy poet who died from a rare form of muscular dystrophy at age 13, but inspired millions with his writings.

Mattie, from Rockville, wrote six best-selling books before dying on June 22, 2004. Among his fans were former president Jimmy Carter and author Maya Angelou, who admired his message: seeking world peace. Now, his mother Jeni -- who lost four children to the disease she also suffers from -- has written "Messenger," about Mattie's slife. (An excerpt from the book is avaiable at the GMA website.)

Here's a photo gallery of the Stepaneks, including some touching images from Mattie's funeral. And for more on this extraordinary child, here's an excerpt from a 2006 Baltimore Sun story by Joe Burrirs:

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Stepanek watched as her son handled going from sometimes struggling with Jamie's death (Mattie's two eldest siblings, Stevie and Katie, died before he was born) to coping with his own mortality to crafting words that would help others cope with grief. But she would discover that fame often comes with detractors, even for someone like Mattie.

"Someone once asked him, `If everything in life has choice, did you choose to have a dying body?'" she said.

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"And Mattie said, `I have not chosen to have a disability, but I will choose how to live my life with a disability, and peace is a choice because being peaceful is an attitude.'"

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