What an emotional moment for Devon Still and his four-year-old daughter, Leah Still, on Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
The toddler, who's battling Stage 4 pediatric cancer, was honored by the Cincinnati Bengals between the first and second quarter of their Thursday Night Football game against the Cleveland Browns. The Bengals presented a $1.3 million donation to the Cincinnati's Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Leah's name and the young girl had a chance to see her dad, a defensive tackle for the team, play for the very first time live. During the presentation, the Bengals flashed a montage of the Stills on their big screen to the crowd's approval.
Although the Bengals fell to the Browns, 24-3, the story of Still and his daughter's fight with cancer touched all those in attendance and television viewers at home in what has become a growing story throughout this NFL season.
"I would describe it as an emotional roller coaster," Still told ESPN after the game. "Seeing my daughter in the pre-game with all the excitement and then seeing her on the field receiving the check and just seeing the joy in her face, I was just so proud of the perseverance she showed to raise that money."
The story was even enough to cross lines and affect Still's competition, as well as star athletes from other sports.
"Being a parent myself, I couldn't imagine what he's going through, especially how demanding this job is," Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer told NFL Network, after pulling Still aside after the game. "That gives you goose bumps. I just went over and told him I respect him and I pray for his daughter and him and hope everything gets better."
Upon seeing the emotional moment, LeBron James tweeted: "Leah Still u are so freaking STRONG!!! My daughter will be looking up to u that's for sure as well as her Dad!! Continue to smile sweetheart."
ESPN reports that Leah Still must continue rounds of "radiation, chemotherapy and stem-cell treatments" before doctors can rule her cancer-free. Survival rate of her type of pediatric cancer is listed at 50-50.
The sports world — and beyond — is pulling for you, Leah.
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(Photo: AP Photo/AJ Mast)