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Elton John says Ryan White's family saved his life after teen's death

Elton John told the crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday night that time he spent with Ryan White's family led him to get sober, saving his life.

INDIANAPOLIS — Elton John paid tribute to Ryan White during Friday's concert at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, saying the Indiana teenager and his family saved his life.

(NOTE: The video in the player above is from an April 2020 story marking the 30th anniversary of Ryan White's death.)

White was 13 years old when he was diagnosed with AIDS, which he contracted through a tainted blood transfusion as part of his treatment from hemophilia.

He died on April 8, 1990 at the age of 18.

John was among the high-profile celebrities who befriended White and his family after his diagnosis until Ryan passed away. He came to Indiana for White's funeral where Ryan's mother, Jeanne White-Ginder, said in 2020, “From going to look at caskets to picking a church, Elton did all of that and there wasn’t a want or a need at the hospital that Elton didn’t try to take care of."

John told the crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse Friday spending time around White's family caused him to change his lifestyle.

"I knew that my lifestyle was crazy and out of order. And six months later, I got sober and clean and have been ever since," John said.

He said White's family was the catalyst for him to change.

"I cannot thank them enough, because without them, I'd probably be dead," the singer said.

Credit: Associated Press
Elton John, center, hugs Jeanne White-Ginder, left, with her daughter, Andrea White, before John performs during a benefit commemorating the 20th anniversary of AIDS patient Ryan White's death in Indianapolis, Wednesday, April 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

White-Ginder continues to share a close relationship with the music icon, who has performed at benefits in honor of White. John acknowledged her presence at Friday's concert.

"I love you so much," John said. "Thank you for all you've done for me. This song is for you."

He then began playing his 1974 hit song, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me."