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Devon and Leah Still to be honored at ESPYS


The Sports Xchange

Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still and his 5-year-old daughter Leah will be honored during The ESPYS awards show in Los Angeles.

The Stills will receive the Jimmy V Perseverance Award next month for the way they have handled Leah’s inspirational fight with cancer, ESPN announced Monday.

Leah was diagnosed one year ago with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer that originally left her with a 50 percent chance of survival.

In late March, Devon Still announced via Instagram that Leah was in remission, although she still had to go through stem cell treatments to help get her immune system back to normal.

On Friday night, however, Still reached out on social media to announce Leah has “hit a pretty serious complication” during her treatments.

“I need some prayers sent up for Leah tonight! We hit a pretty serious complication from the stem cell transplant called VOD,” Still wrote on his Instagram account. “They caught it early so hopefully it gives the doctors a better chance of stopping it from getting aggressive. As you can imagine our minds are all over the place but we’re going to try and remain positive!”

Veno-occlusive disease (VOD) is a condition in which the small veins in the liver are obstructed and is the result of high doses of chemotherapy given before a transplant.

On Monday, Still wrote on Instagram that he hopes Leah will be healthy enough to make the trip for the awards show, which will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 15.

“The perseverance that Devon and Leah have shown throughout this unfortunate process is incredibly moving,” said Connor Schell, senior vice president of ESPN Films and Original Content and overseer of The ESPYS. “Each day that she fights, her father is by her side, and their love and strength has captivated all of us in the sports world and beyond.”

ESPYS executive producer Maura Mandt said the award was given as a way of offering hope to other families who are enduring battles similar to what the father and his daughter are going through.

“This award is a testament to the inspiration Devon and Leah are to all the families who are suffering from similar circumstances,” Mandt said. “It is our hope that with this award we can send them more strength as they face this latest challenge.”

Leah’s story has brought awareness for pediatric cancers and the Bengals have been joined by other NFL teams in raising funds. In November, the Bengals donated more than $1.2 million to pediatric cancer research initiatives based on a sale of Still’s black No. 75 jersey.

In April, Leah, who has been receiving all of her treatments at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, gave the opening coin toss during Temple’s spring game. Players let her catch a pass and run for a touchdown during the game.

Still, now in his fourth season, was promoted from the Bengals’ practice squad after the first week of last season. He played in parts of 12 games, making 19 tackles.

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