Five-year-old Leah, who has shown bravery in her battle with cancer and was released from the hospital last month, wasn’t cleared by doctors to make the trip to Los Angeles to accept her award, but her father took her place at the podium Wednesday night.
Leah did make an appearance via a prerecorded video in which she said, “Sorry I couldn’t be here, everybody. Thank you for supporting me while I beat out cancer.”
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James introduced the award before the touching video below aired.
On the red carpet before the show, Still said his message after receiving the award on behalf of Leah would be “don't give up.” He told ESPN's Hannah Storm that Leah is “almost back to her normal self now.”
“This is the best I've seen her in a long time,” he said.
Leah’s cancer went into remission in March, but she has received immune system treatments over the past several months including stem-cell and radiation therapy. The Bengals kept Still, 26, on their practice squad last season to help him pay for Leah’s medical care before re-adding him to the active roster. Over 12 games, Still recorded 19 tackles for the Bengals.
Still announced on Tuesday that Leah would be unable to attend via his Instagram.