Devon Still on having daughter Leah at game: ‘Like a rollercoaster of emotions’
The Cincinnati Bengals may have been on the wrong side of a blowout on Thursday night, losing to division rival Cleveland Browns 24-3, but for Devon Still, wins and losses were put in a proper perspective due to the presence of his 4-year-old daughter Leah at the stadium to see her dad play football for the first time.
Doctors deemed Leah, who is battling Stage IV neuroblastoma, healthy enough to travel from Philadelphia to Cincinnati for the game, and the tiny package of inspiration and courage became the star of the night.
Receiving first-class treatment by the Bengals and being treated like a princess, Leah also was on the field to take part in a ceremony where the Bengals presented a check in the amount of nearly $1.4 million to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in her name, monies raised by the sale of Still’s jersey.
The Bengals present a check for over $1.3M to Cincinnati Children's hospital in honor of Leah Still #StillStrong http://t.co/3yd0Rg2ELx
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) November 7, 2014
But for Still, even though it was an especially profound moment that gave him great joy, he nevertheless experienced a turbulent evening as it related to his
“It was like a rollercoaster of emotions,” he said, via Cincinnati.com. “Every time I was able to see my daughter – in pre-game (looking down from a suite), or to see her come down on the field when they presented the check – it was good emotions. We definitely wanted to go out there and win that game. That would have been the cherry on top of everything.”
The two shared a beautifully heartwarming moment during pregame when their eyes locked, Leah up in a suite and her dad down on the field.
Still mentioned that there was another very special guest sharing the suite with Leah: Lauren Hill, the terminally ill college basketball player who has similarly inspired millions with her grace, dignity and courage as she battles Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare and fatal condition.
“I think the most emotional part for me was when I looked up and saw her next to Lauren Hill – they had a chance to meet,” said Still. “I could tell how much she was smiling on the (video board) that she had a lot of fun. I’m sure she’s going to tell me about her day with meeting the cheerleaders and being able to be in the press box.”
Leah is scheduled to begin radiation treatments back in Philadelphia on Tuesday, and her daddy will be traveling back with her.
“I want to see her before she can’t have contact with anybody,” he said.
Even if there comes a time when even Still cannot have contact with her for a stretch, one thing is certain: He’ll be nearby, as close to her as humanly possible, supporting his brave and precious little girl.
“You never think that your child would face a battle like this,” said Still. “The strength that my daughter has shown me, the courage that she has shown me, is nothing short of inspirational. She’s allowed me to go out and meet a lot kids that are dealing with the same thing. Being surrounded by those kids you just get a different outlook on life. I am very proud of my daughter and the amount of awareness that she has raised for pediatric cancer and the funds that she’s raised for pediatric cancer. She thinks she’s a movie star. She’s handled the whole ordeal tremendously. I never expect a four-year-old to be able to go through this and be able to understand what she’s going through and be able to put a smile on her face.”