When Cincinnati Bengal’s defensive end Devon Still suffered injuries this past season, his chances of playing football were slim. And when Still heard the news about his daughter, he never anticipated playing football again.
In June 2014, Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage 4 cancer. Neuroblastma, a pediatric cancer, is the most common childhood cancer with an average of 650 cases per year in the United States. Neuroblastma is a disease that develops from a neural crest in the sympathetic nervous system.
After cutting Still from the 53-man roster, the Bengals resigned him to the practice squad the next day and elected to donate sales of his jersey to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to fund research for pediatric cancer and to help families who are suffering from them.
With his mind on his daughter’s health, Still put his football career on the back burner. After Leah’s diagnosis, Still slept by her side in the hospital even after his recent back surgery, and, out of support for his daughter, shaved his head and will only grow back his hair when Leah grows hers back again.
“Football stopped crossing my mind,” Still said in an interview this season. “When I heard she had a 50 percent chance of survival, and then I heard the cancer went into her bones, I just wanted to spend all my time with her—in case her time ran out. You know, that is not time you could ever get back.”
Hearing the news about Still’s daughter, people around the country began buying his jersey to raise money and awareness for charity. This included ESPN sportscaster Scott Van Pelt who bought 50 jerseys and New Orleans Saint’s head coach Sean Payton who purchased 100.
The Bengals ended the fundraiser this past week after selling exactly 14, 945 jerseys and raising over $1.25 million. The money will be presented to the hospital on Nov. 6 at the end of the first quarter during the Bengal’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
Still has appeared in every game this season and has recorded nine total tackles. His playing time is expected to diminish since defensive end Brandon Thompson is close to returning to the team. Either way, Still’s impact for the Bengals and the city of Cincinnati has been nothing but sensational.