Sunderland mascot Bradley Lowery dies after long illness
Six-year-old who struck up friendship with Jermain Defoe suffered from neuroblastoma
Sunderland mascot Bradley Lowery with former player Jermain Defoe. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Bradley Lowery, the football mascot whose plight touched thousands of people has died after a battle with a rare cancer, his family said.
“He was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed else where.
“There are no words to describe how heartbroken we are.”
Bradley and Defoe were pictured together at the youngster’s home in Blackhall, County Durham last week after the little boy had a party in bed as a way of saying goodbye.
As Bradley continued to fight for life, Defoe broke down in tears on Thursday at a press conference with his new club, Bournemouth, when he was asked about their special bond.
Defoe said: “There is not a day that goes past where I do not wake up in the morning and check my phone or think about little Bradley because his love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes.
“It is special.”
Bradley was a mascot for Sunderland several times last season and found a place in the hearts of thousands of football fans around the world.
A club statement said: “Bradley captured the hearts and minds of everyone at our club with his indomitable spirit, tremendous courage and beautiful smile, which could light up even the darkest of rooms.
“Despite battling neuroblastoma for much of his all too short life, he demonstrated a bravery and fortitude beyond his years that humbled us all. He was truly an inspiration.”
Supporters of different clubs made banners and chanted his name at games.
He was an England mascot at Wembley when Defoe scored on his return to the national team.
Defoe was guest of honour at a huge party thrown for the boy’s sixth birthday in May.
Supporters had hoped a massive fundraising effort last year could get him to the US for pioneering treatment, but his family announced at Christmas that his cancer was terminal.