Devon Still’s daughter Leah to attend Browns-Bengals game on Thursday night
The Cincinnati Bengals can lose its hold on first place in the AFC North with a loss to division rival Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, but for defensive lineman Devon Still, the game carries far more significance and it will have everything to do with most precious person in his life.
Still’s four-year-old daughter Leah, for the first time in his NFL career, will be in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium to cheer on her dad.
Leah has become an inspirational symbol of hope, strength and the unbreakable bond between father and daughter over the past several months. The four-year-old currently is battling Stage 4 pediatric cancer, and even though the original prognosis only gave Leah a 50-50 chance of survival, doctors have given her clearance to travel for the first time since being diagnosed with neuroblastoma on June 2.
“It’s going to be added motivation just knowing that my daughter is watching me,” Still said on Monday, via FOX Sports “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.”
Leah reportedly will be seated in a with the family of teammate Domata Peko, but Still hopes she will be strong enough to take part in an on-field ceremony when the Bengals will present a check in the amount of $1.25 million that was raised for pediatric cancer research. The funds were raised through a jersey sale coordinated by the Bengals through which nearly 15,000 Still jerseys were sold.
Given the uncertain nature of how Leah will be feeling, her role in the presentation remains a fluid situation.
Still provided an update Monday regarding Leah’s condition — something he has done throughout her battle — saying some changes were made in her treatment because she was losing weight.
“They had to put a G-tube [gastronomic tube] inside her stomach because she wasn’t able to down the NG-tube [nasogastric tube] that was in her nose,” Still said, per ESPN.com. “They said a couple weeks ago that she lost about 10 pounds. That’s why we decided to go ahead with [the G-tube] procedure, so she could maintain her weight for when she starts radiation.”
Whether or not Leah can join him on the field, though, doesn’t matter to Still. He’s just excited that his precious and brave little girl will be able to watch him play. Leah is expected to undergo another round of radiation next Monday, so a brief respite from her struggle will be most welcome.
“It will probably be the most special game I’m ever going to play because I know my daughter is going to be here to watch me play,” he said. “All the money that’s been raised for the cancer research is because of her strength and because she’s fighting this disease. So it’s definitely going to be an emotional game for me.”
And a win with Leah in attendance would be the icing on the cake.
“I hope she gets the crowd going so that we have a lot of energy in that stadium and can come out with a win,” said Still.
No matter the outcome of the game, it’s going to be a memorable night for both Leah and her extremely proud and devoted daddy.