The ESPYs was full of tear-jerking moments, but the one that made us cry the hardest was probably Devon Still’s acceptance speech on behalf of his daughter.
He’s a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, but first and foremost Devon’s a devoted dad to 5-year-old Leah Still. Last year, she was diagnosed with cancer and doctors later told them it spread throughout her body. She put up a fight through months of treatments, spending much of her time in the hospital.
Devon couldn’t be with her through the entire thing because of football season. (Her treatments are paid for by his insurance.) In his speech, he talked about how much of a toll it took on him to be away from her while she was ailing, saying he sometimes thought about going to a liquor store and drinking his pain away.
“But when I thought about it I couldn’t do it because everything I’m teaching my daughter—that she couldn’t give up, that she couldn’t let this get the best of her,” he said. “Who was I to go try to find an escape through liquor and she had no escape for what she was going through?”
In March, they received the news they’d been waiting for—Leah was finally cancer-free. She’s still going through treatments to improve her immune system, which is why she couldn’t attend the ESPYs to accept the Jimmy V. Preserverance Award, but the ordeal hasn’t kept her from smiling and enjoying the little things in life, just like every other kid. That’s something Devon said he’s seen in other children fighting cancer.
“On TV I look like the hero, I look like I’m saving the day, but honestly ya’ll are the real heroes,” he said.
Grab a box of tissues and watch Devon talk about how much he loves his daughter and admires her strength. We were already huge admirers of Leah, but hearing so much more about her fight puts her on our list of heroes.
Leah also sent her own short message to thank everyone for their support.