Misaki Murakami lost almost everything on March 11, 2011. His house was destroyed, and all of his possessions were swept away by the tsunami that struck the east coast of Japan.

Like legions of other survivors, Murakami is trying to rebuild his life. His spirits were boosted last weekend when he received word that his prized soccer ball had washed ashore in Alaska, according to the Associated Press.

"It was a big surprise," the AP reports Murakami told NHK. "I've never imagined that my ball has reached Alaska.

"I've lost everything in the tsunami, so I'm delighted. I really want to say thank you for finding the ball."

The ball was discovered in March by an American named David Baxter, who was beach-combing on an island off the Alaskan mainland. It had floated more than 3,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean and washed ashore on Middleton Island.

"When I first saw the soccer ball, I was excited to see it, and I thought it was possible it came from the tsunami zone," Baxter said.

Baxter's wife, Yumi, reached out to a Japanese reporter, who helped the couple locate Murakami. They spoke with the 16-year-old last weekend, and the story of the lost — and found — ball has become international news.

Murakami received the ball as a gift in 2005 from a former classmates as he prepared to leave his school and transfer to another. It contained words of encouragement that Murakami is undoubtedly excited to read again.

The Baxters are making arraingments to send him the ball in the near future.

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Thumbnail photo via Flickr/bardigan1