Tributes to ‘inspiring life’ of Bradley Lowery, aged 6
A Catholic national sports chaplain has joined the world of football in paying tribute to six-year-old Bradley Lowery who died after bravely battling a rare childhood cancer.
The little Sunderland fan whose remarkable friendship with star striker Jermain Defoe touched thousands of people died at home in Blackhall, Co Durham, in his parents’ arms last week, surrounded by his family.
In a statement on the family’s Facebook page, his mother Gemma Lowery 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 heart broken we are.
“Thank you everyone for all your support and kind words. Sleep tight baby boy and fly high with them angels.”
Mgr Vladimir Felzmann reiterated the words of Sunderland AFC, adding his own tribute.
“Sunderland said ‘Bradley captured the hearts and minds of everyone at our club’. I say he captured the heart and minds of everyone who knew his story,” said Mgr Felzmann.
“Bradley lived a tragically short but wonderfully inspiring life that may have brought a lot more people to prayer than many a priest’s preaching,” he added.
Mgr Felzmann, who is also chief executive of the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, praised Sunderland for the way in which they supported the six-year-old football fanatic following his tragic diagnosis.
“Sunderland may not be in the Premier division of football but they certainly are way up in the top four in generosity and love,” he said. “Jermain Defoe was a wonderful support and friend: a footballer at his human best.”
He added: “I pray for Bradley’s family and his many swiftly-found friends – especially Jermain – who are all heartbroken.”
The day before Bradley died, Defoe paid a tearful tribute at a news conference with his new club Bournemouth, saying: “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.”
The day after Bradley’s death, Defoe shared a lengthy tribute and “goodbye” to his friend on social media, saying he felt “blessed” that God had brought the ‘little superstar’ into his life and was “grateful” for all the “amazing moments” they shared.
“Your courage and bravery will continue to inspire me for the rest of my life,” the striker tweeted. “You will never know what a difference you made to me as a person.
“God has you in his arms and I will always carry you in my heart,” he continued. “Sleep tight little one. My best friend.”
Bradley was a mascot for Sunderland several times last season and found a place in the hearts of football fans around the world.
The club said he was an “inspiration” and expressed its love to his mother Gemma, father Carl and brother Kieran.
Supporters of different clubs made banners and chanted Bradley’s name at games and he was an England mascot at Wembley when Defoe scored on his return to the Three Lions side.
Cancer has no colours was one of the messages which football fans around the country wrote on banners which they held up at matches as they chanted Bradley’s name.
“It’s great for Bradley now delighting in life with God. It is hard for us who feel the loss. A reminder to treasure who we have while they are here with us on earth,” said Mgr Felzmann. “One day we shall all be there in Heaven together and thank God for all we had to help us on through our own life.”
Bradley’s funeral is due to take place this Friday, at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, in Blackhall, at 11.15am.
Instead of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the Bradley Lowery Foundation.Tags: Blackhall, Bradley Lowery, Bradley Lowery Foundation, cancer, Co Durham, Jermain Defoe, John Paul II Foundation for Sport, Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Sunderland AFC