If you are looking for a heartwarming yet tear-jerking piece to read today, check out this story from the Charlotte Observer on how Carolina Panthers rookie and former Alabama standout Christian Miller became a hero to a young boy with cancer.
We set off to write a story on a player’s impact during the NFL’s annual My Cause, My Cleats initiative earlier this month. Because I was curious about his off-the-field work, I asked rookie linebacker Christian Miller why he had selected Children’s of Alabama as his cause.
With almost no prodding, Miller went on to tell me about Jaden. About a boy that he was watching suffer from afar via a Facebook page diligently kept by his mother, Melissa. When we finished our conversation, he realized I had barely even asked specifically about Jaden before he told me about their connection, “I guess he’s just on mind.”
The goal was to publish this story during Week 14, but life doesn’t always go according to plan; Miller’s cleats weren’t even ready for the Dec. 8 game they were designed for. More importantly, Jaden’s condition worsened. On Dec. 13, the family began to prepare for hospice care after they learned the cancer had spread throughout his whole body.
On Dec. 14, Jaden’s life ended, but the affect he had on Miller and so many others won’t soon be forgotten.
Miller goes on to discuss all of the ways that he saw himself in Jaden. Both are biracial and sports is one of several common interests. He referred to Jaden as his “little brother” and adorned him with all of the Panthers swag he could get his hands on. One blanket in particular became Jaden’s prized possession, and it appears in almost every photo taken of him in his last year of life.
Our hearts go out to Jaden’s family, and we are thankful for young people like Christian. He is not only a fine representative of his family, the University of Alabama, and the Panthers, but young people like him offer hope for the future in spite of so much negativity that dominates today’s news cycles. May he keep his spirit and go on to make a meaningful impact on the lives of many. The story is a great read and worth your time.
Roll Tide, Christian.