According to his website this Tom Cochrane songs is based on real events he learned while performing in a small northern town..
“The song is based on a true story. I met a man in an arena when we were on tour just before sound check, a nice soft spoken guy, who told me that his son had aspirations to play pro hockey and had a scholarship, or had been close to one in the States. He asked me if we were going to play “Boy Inside The Man” that night and said that his son had been a big fan. I asked him if his son would be there, not realizing the man had been using the past tense. That was when he told me his son had died in a car accident that past summer… I felt for that guy, his story hit me hard.”