Bradley Lowery was the boy who touched the hearts of millions across the globe. Although he came to the attention of the public because of his battle with cancer, it was his courage, fighting spirit and megawatt smile that will linger longest in the memory.
Bradley, who sadly past away on Friday afternoon, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013, but packed so much into his short time, touching the lives of so many along the way.
Despite being just six years old and struggling with his debilitating disease, he bought so much joy to those around him – and one man in particular.
The young Sunderland fan left an indelible mark on the hearts of football fans across the globe despite his tender years, hitting the headlines with his infectious smile and love for the Black Cats.
He described striker Jermain Defoe, now with Bournemouth, as his ‘best friend’, and the pair made plenty of high-profile appearances together. The youngster led his favourite team out alongside Defoe in September against Everton last year, receiving a rapturous reception from the crowd.
The Toffees later donated £200,000 to help the Lowery family pay for treatment in America. He then went one better in March this year when, alongside Defoe once more, he was a mascot with England for their game against Lithuania in front of an adoring Wembley crowd.
Defoe said in a press conference days before his passing: ‘I don’t really know how to put into words how I feel. It has been a special time having that relationship with Brad.
“I speak to the family every day, I was with them a few days ago and it was tough to see him suffer like that. “I felt I was prepared for it after what I went through with my dad but it was so tough to see a kid of that age who has been going through this for so long and got to the stage where he is obviously struggling.”
Young Bradley also stole the show at the Sports Personality of the Year awards in December 2016, rocking a blue suit and bow tie along with his trademark grin.
To add to his impressive CV, Bradley even won Match of the Day goal of the month competition for January for his goal, a penalty past Asmir Begovic on the Stadium of Light pitch during half-time of the defeat against Chelsea.
Although he finally lost his long battle, Bradley shone brightly in his six years and packed more into his short time than most manage in a lifetime. -DAILYMAIL