Cincinnati Bengals player Devon Still last night gave an emotional speech about his 5-year-old daughter’s battle with cancer, recalling how he would pray to God that he didn't lose his little girl.

The Bengals defensive tackle and his daughter Leah were honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award during yesterday’s ESPY Awards.


WATCH: Bengals Player Has Some Amazing Words for His Daughter Before Her Cancer Surgery


Still told the crowd that he felt like he was living in a nightmare when Leah was diagnosed with cancer.

“I remember the first week in the hospital, I would sneak out [of] the room and I would go down to the chapel and I would just cry,” Still said. “I would just ask God why did he give my daughter this fight, and I would beg him to give me the fight with death rather than my daughter.”

 

A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on

 

Still recalled learning that Leah’s cancer had spread throughout her body, telling the audience that he realized in that moment that they had two options.

“We could’ve lost faith and just let this battle with cancer get the best of us, or I could give my daughter’s battle with cancer a purpose, and use my platform to try to raise as much awareness as possible. […] We decided not to give up,” he said.

But being in Cincinnati instead of with Leah started to take a toll on Still. He said that Leah wanted to be with her dad, and he couldn’t be there for her.

“That really hurt me and made me feel like I wasn’t a father,” he said, telling the audience that he hit rock bottom. He said that he contemplated escaping the pain through liquor, but he didn’t do it.

“Instead, I would grab my fiancée’s hand every night, and we would drop to our knees, and we would pray to God that I didn’t lose my daughter while I was in Cincinnati and that she was able to fight so that when I got home, we could make up for the time that was lost,” Still said. “And that time, God answered my prayers because my daughter went into remission.”

 

A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on

 

Still thanked the Bengals for sticking with him as his daughter battled cancer. The team temporarily put him on the practice squad so he could continue to get health insurance and pay for Leah’s treatment.

“Y’all set the example for corporate America,” Still said. “Y’all let everybody know what it’s like for an employer to stick behind his employee when we can do nothing for you.”

He also expressed his gratitude for Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis and the Brown family for allowing him to be a father first and a football player second.

Still thanked his fiancée for sticking by his side and for “being so unselfish” throughout Leah’s battle. He pledged to give her the wedding of her dreams, but joked that she better stick to the budget.

Finally, he ended by telling Leah that she has taught him so much more about life than he ever could have taught her.

“From the moment you [were] born, you molded me into the man I am today,” he said.

Leah could not attend the ceremony, but told viewers in a video message, “Thank you for supporting me while I beat up cancer.”

Watch the emotional speech below.


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