Wesley Eggleston | Staff Writer
This year’s Jimmy V Perseverance Award winner during the 2015 ESPYS on July 14th was Devon Still and his daughter, Leah, who has been in the forever-uphill battle against cancer over the past year.
Devon Still is a defensive tackle for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, and when his daughter was diagnosed with the disease in June 2014, she was then playing a game that is even more dangerous than football. But after a lengthy battle by his daughter’s side, what was Still’s message to the world on Wednesday night? “We could have lost faith and just let this battle with cancer get the best of us, or I could give my daughter’s battle with cancer a purpose,” Still said in his speech to a packed audience inside the Microsoft Theater in LA. God gives Still and his daughter favor every day to not lose faith.
Determination that the battle will be won, and even through those long hard nights staying up by his daughter’s bedside, trying to keep them both strong, he has been able to maintain his role as a father. Last July, Still showed the ultimate sign of support when he shaved his head bald and said that he would grow it back only when Leah’s does.
The “speech heard around the world” brought a chill down one’s spine, and will forever be remembered. “Out of nowhere she just started touching her stomach, and putting something in mine…Dad I’m taking the cancer out of me and into you…I couldn’t wait to see the disbelief on the doctor’s faces when they saw my daughter didn’t have cancer… [But] they told our family that the cancer had spread all throughout my daughter’s body.”
Some people wake up every morning, go through their regular tribulations, and think they have the most miserable life because they aren’t making enough money, their spouse is not showing enough love, or they can’t afford the latest electronics. What about the people in life with real concerns and issues that could cost their lives?
People like Leah Still, who isn’t wrapped up with worries of materialistic items,are receiving love from their family and supporters everywhere and that’s simply enough for them. Being caught up with her family and God, along with being an inspiration, is her job.
As one could tell by her enthusiasm during her segment on the ESPYS, Leah is one of the happiest little girls in the world, with one of the brightest smiles you’ll ever see. “Sorry I couldn’t be there everybody, but thank you for supporting me while I beat up cancer,” Leah said to the crowd via recording.
As she continues to fight for her life, it is a reminder for all of us to stay strong as well, not just for Leah, but for cancer patients everywhere. As a people, we have conquered a myriad of things. It has taken some time, but with people like Leah, and her faith that it will get better, the day is coming where we will put an end to cancer.
People followed Leah’s story during the NFL season when her story broke, and last night’s harrowing display at the ESPYS, allowed people to continue to follow her and be a part of her journey. In March, Leah had surgery to remove a tumor that greatly improved her condition, but suffered a setback in late May that prevented her from attending the show. We just have to stay prayed up and “Leah Strong” for her and the Still family moving forward.