Cincinnati Bengals player Devon Still took to the NFL field last night for a very special game.
He had his number one fan, 4-year-old daughter Leah Still, cheering him on from the sidelines. Leah was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in June. She successfully underwent surgery to remove the tumor in September and is doing well.
Still told ESPN it was very special for him to be able to have his daughter there watching him play.
“It’s going to be added motivation just knowing that my daughter is watching me,” he told ESPN before hitting the field. “I want her to be able to hear how the crowd cheers loud whenever I make a tackle, so I’m going to go out there and do whatever I can do to put a smile on her face.”
It wasn’t only a big deal for Devon – Leah was queen for a day as she sat front and center at Paul Brown Stadium for her first live game since last season. Everyone from the announcers to the crew showed support for the tiny tot and her family.
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) November 6, 2014
Before the Bengals stepped out on the field to take on the Cleveland Browns, the little girl suited up in her adorable Bengals gear and posed alongside the team’s cheerleaders. Her proud papa was able to capture the moment, which he shared on Twitter:
“Leah Strong” quickly became the motto of the night, with her dad sporting it written across the black paint under his eyes, and shirts benefitting the family available for purchase in the stadium’s stores.
“We all see what Devon goes through on a day-in and day-out basis,” rookie running back Jeremy Hill told ESPN. “We’re always here to comfort him and to be there for him any way we can help him out. It’s definitely going to be big for us as a team, especially to go get that win for him as long as she’s here. Like he says, it’s ‘Leah Strong’ all the time.”
That wasn’t the only thing special about this particular game. The Bengals arranged for Leah to be there when they presented the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with a check for $1.25 million.
Check out the heartwarming video here.