On the ball: Bradley Lowery should be an inspiration to us all
August 1, 2017 | 8:19 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan
Bradley Lowery’s biggest concern, was whether he would live to see tomorrow.

For most of us, our greatest source of anguish might be not being able to catch our favourite TV show on time, or staying a few hours late at work, because that report just had to be filed tonight. Bradley Lowery’s biggest concern though, was whether he would live to see tomorrow. Hailing from the town of Blackhall Colliery in Britain, Bradley suffered from neuroblastoma, a rare and nearly incurable form of brain cancer. Despite doing their utmost to find a cure for it, and showing a near-indefatigable spirit throughout his ordeal, Bradley finally succumbed to the terminal disease on the 7th of July, 2017. He was six years old. Let that sink in for a moment.

“My brave boy has went with the angels today, 07/07/17 at 13:35, in mammy and daddies arms surrounded by his family,” said his family on a Facebook page set up to raise funds for his treatment, titled Bradley Lowery’s Fight Against Neuroblastoma. “He was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed elsewhere. There are no words to describe how heartbroken we are,” added his mum and dad. “Thank you everyone for all your support and kind words. Sleep tight baby boy and fly high with them angels.”

Little Bradley had been fighting this disease, since he’d been diagnosed with neuroblastoma aged just 18 months. But Bradley and his parents never gave up. To them, there was no ‘if’, when it came to finding a cure. There was only a ‘when’. It is his infectious energy, endearing enthusiasm, and ability to never cower in the face of his ordeal that managed to unite football fans from all over the world. Trawl social media and fan forums, and you are sure to find plenty of fans unabashedly spewing verbal vitriol at each other.

But they put aside their differences for this little boy, who made us all realise the power in coming together for the greater good when it is most needed. It’s hard not to tear up as I write this article, because no one – no one – should be put in the situation little Bradley and his parents were in.

A passionate Sunderland fan, Bradley was invited to the Stadium of Light by the club, and amidst the chants of 49,000 emotional fans roaring ‘one Bradley Lowery’ in unison, he struck up a most unusual, but lasting, friendship, with Jermaine Defoe, a tearjerker twist to this already emotional tale that endeared him even more to all of us. A few days after his trip to Sunderland, Bradley was invited to Everton, and as Romelu Lukaku carried him onto the pitch, Goodison Park rose as one, their communal difference set aside as they acknowledged his bravery and determination to get better.

It wasn’t just clubs, though: England’s national team invited him to lead out the Three Lions at Wembley, arm in arm with his best mate, Defoe, who walked out to a thundering round of applause which shook the stadium’s rafters before the World Cup qualifier against Lithuania. 34-year-old Defoe and six-year-old Bradley hung out all the time, whether it was at a party for the little fighter, or in his hospital bed, with Bradley – who was often worn out by his treatment – falling asleep many a time in the England striker’s arms.

Small wonder then, that Defoe, who attended Bradley’s funeral on the 15th of July, broke down in tears at a presser for new club AFC Bournemouth. “It’s been difficult, it’s been hard because I’ve kept this in for so long,” he revealed. “I’m obviously trying to be strong for the lad and my family and his family as well, but I don’t know how to put that in words.

It was a special time having that sort of relationship with Brad. “From the moment I met him, I couldn’t believe this young kid was ill because he ran over to me and from that moment there was just an instant connection,” he added. “I hadn’t seen a picture of him, but just his energy in the changing room, and seeing him around the other kids...he was a great character. I speak to his family every day, I was with him a few days ago and it was just heartbreaking to see him suffer like that. It was just so tough to see a kid of that age go through this for so long. He will always be in my heart for the rest of my life. We’re there for the family, even going forward, and it puts stuff into perspective.”

No parent should ever have to bury their children and as tens of thousands from across the UK assembled to watch Bradley receive his final goodbye from his mother and father, while his fight is something no one — least of all a six-year-old — should ever be faced with, his story is a reminder for us to be grateful for whatever we have, even if it may not seem bounteous at the time.

Rest in peace, Bradley. You’ve got the best seat in the house now.

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