Devon Still’s Second Chance Against Daughter’s Pediatric Cancer

stillthumbBy ESPN.com

Devon Still and Sean Payton chatted Thursday morning on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” show for the first time since the New Orleans Saints coach purchased 100 of the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle’s jerseys from the team’s website, proceeds of which went to pediatric cancer research. Still’s 4-year-old daughter, Leah, is battling Stage 4 neuroblastoma, and the story caught Payton’s attention when he heard on the radio that the Bengals were donating proceeds of Still’s jersey sales, priced at $100 each, to pediatric cancer research.

Payton bought 100 jerseys last week, sized small and medium, and donated them to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Still said recently that jersey sales had surpassed $500,000. “I just wanted to thank you for really stepping up to help support this cause,” Still told Payton. “I’m pretty sure you know how many families and how many children you’re helping out with this. And it’s just showing the world how it’s not all about how competitive you can be on the field, it’s about what you can do to help out humanity. And I really appreciate you doing what you did.”

Payton responded by telling Still that he has “inspired a ton of people” with his story — as have Bengals owner Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis for supporting Still during a difficult time. “It just really caught my attention the way they were handling it. And I think it will give other people strength, obviously in a difficult time,” Payton said. “I’m a huge fan from afar, [though] I’ve never met you. Payton then joked of their teams’ Week 11 meeting on the field: “We play you down the road, now, we can’t have any sacks on Drew Brees.”

At the 2012 NFL Draft, Still was selected in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals, with the 53rd overall selection. He played two seasons with the team before being cut in late August 2014, prior to the start of the season. The following day, the Bengals re-signed Still to the practice squad to help him pay for his daughter’s cancer treatment. On September 10, 2014 it was announced that Still was being moved to active status. In the game that followed, the Bengals’ second of the season, he recorded three tackles against the Atlanta Falcons.  In June 2014, his daughter, Leah Sari, was diagnosed with cancer. Still’s world turned upside down once his daughter was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma stage 4 cancer. Still said: “she’s fighting for her life. Sports is not more important than me being there while my daughter is fighting for her life.” Since the 2nd June 2014 diagnosis, Still spent the first three weeks sleeping in a cot next to his daughter at the hospital despite his own recent back surgery.

In support of his daughter, Still shaved his head bald and has said that he will grow back his hair only when Leah’s does.