Six-year-old Bradley Lowery, who bravery touched the hearts of millions, has died following a long battle with cancer.
The sad news was confirmed by his parents who wrote on Facebook:
“My brave boy has went with the angels today 07/07/17 at 13:35, in mammy and daddies arms surrounded by his family. 💔💔💔
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 💙💙💙💙💙.”
The young Sunderland fan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer – when he was 18 months old.
He underwent treatment and was in remission, but suffered a relapse last year. Well-wishers raised more than £700,000 in 2016 to pay for him to be given antibody treatment in New York, but medics then found his cancer had spread and the family were informed his illness was terminal. He became known around the world following an appeal which saw him receive 250,000 Christmas cards from countries as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
In December, Bradley’s parents Gemma and Carl, from Blackhall Colliery in County Durham, were told their son only had “months to live.” The inspirational young boy later met England manager Gareth Southgate and Match of the Day pundit Gary Lineker at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year bash in Birmingham. He then won the programme’s December goal of the month award after he took a penalty ahead of Sunderland’s game against Chelsea.
Bradley went on to become Sunderland’s mascot and became “best mates” with his hero, striker Jermain Defoe. He also led England out at Wembley for a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania before he and his parents learned in April that his latest and final round of “tumour-shrinking” treatment at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary had failed.
He was also given honorary 41st place in the race card for the Grand National at Aintree in April, named Child of Courage at the Pride of North East Awards and to mark his sixth birthday – a milestone they never thought their son would see – Bradley’s parents threw him a party, attended by 250 friends including Defoe. On May 24th, Mrs Lowery said Bradley had left hospital to start palliative care at home, adding that more tumours had been found and further radiotherapy was planned.
On June 30th, the charity single “Smile For Bradley” by LIV’n’G entered the chart at number 28. All proceeds from the song will go to the Bradley Lowery Foundation, which has been set up in his honour. Just days ago, the family updated Bradley’s many supporters and well-wishers, saying that the youngster was deteriorating fast:
“His temperature is going very high, his breathing very fast, his oxygen levels low. He is sleeping most the time apart from odd times awake. We knew this was coming but we are heartbroken beyond words.”
On July 1st, his family posted a picture of Bradley with Defoe who, after signing for Bournemouth, returned to the North East to see him and yesterday, Defoe broke down in tears during a press conference for his new club and said the six-year-old would “always be in my heart”.
Sunderland FC were among the first to pay tribute to the brave youngster, releasing the following statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bradley’s parents, Gemma and Carl, his brother Kieran, and their family and friends. We extend our love and support to them, now and always.
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.
Bradley’s heart-warming friendship with players and staff alike epitomised the impact this wonderful little boy had on everyone he met. He had a special relationship with Jermain Defoe and their feelings for each other were evident for all to see. Jermain, naturally, is heartbroken.
Bradley’s story not only touched our club and our fans, but also the wider football community. Football can be a powerful force for good and our sport came together to embrace Bradley’s fight in a unique way. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to every club and fan who supported Bradley in recent months and showed such warmth and kindness to the Lowerys – we are truly grateful.
Throughout his illness, Bradley’s family and friends have worked tirelessly to increase awareness of this brutal disease. Their fundraising campaign, initially for Bradley’s treatment and subsequently to raise money for the foundation that will bear his name, will ensure that other youngsters and parents facing the devastation of life-threatening illnesses will have the help and support they so desperately need.
Bradley’s passing will have a profound effect on everyone and we understand that people will want to reach out to support the Lowery’s. We would kindly ask on their behalf however, that that they are given the privacy they need as a family at this most unimaginably difficult time. We will continue to support them in whatever way we can.”
Thousands more tributes have been pouring in across social media and you can read just a selection of them below.
There's only one Bradley Lowery. pic.twitter.com/dzW6mB9lAN
— England (@England) July 7, 2017
Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery. The face of an angel, the heart of a lion.#onebradleylowery
— Kenneth Haigh (@KennethHaigh) July 7, 2017
So sorry that little @Bradleysfight has passed away. An inspirational life cut way too short. Thoughts with his amazing family & friends RIP
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) July 7, 2017
RIP Little Bradley Lowery ❤️. You have united a nation. #CancerHasNoColours
— Jack Murray (@AFCJackMurray) July 7, 2017
— Everton (@Everton) July 7, 2017
Bradley Lowery will never be forgotten, an absoloute inspiration. We all loved you mate ❤️.
— joe ✈️ (@coyijoe) July 7, 2017
Terribly sad to hear that little Bradley Lowery has passed away. A warrior and an inspiration to the end. RIP Bradley.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 7, 2017
Rest in Peace Bradley Lowery. Such a brave little boy, you will never be forgotten. Touched so many hearts #bradleylowery
— Amy Chapman (@AmyChapman95) July 7, 2017
You touched all of our hearts with your remarkable strength and courage. RIP Bradley Lowery.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) July 7, 2017
I, as an adult can only dream of having a fraction of his bravery. He smiled through it all the way. He won. RIP Bradley Lowery
— Marc Hughes (@marchughes9) July 7, 2017
Rest in peace Bradley Lowery. He was an absolute diamond and a super cool dude 😎❤️ sending lots of love.@Bradleysfight
— Paul Manners (@paulm_official) July 7, 2017
RIP Bradley Lowery you touched everyone's hearts , were the best little football fan that anyone ever seen, you'll be missed by millions ❤ pic.twitter.com/VcxKgCJzp9
— Sean 🤗☘ (@Daly_Marvel) July 7, 2017
Today, the football world lost one of its bravest fans.
Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery. pic.twitter.com/x3dhF7yvaO
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) July 7, 2017
RIP Bradley Lowery – a true inspiration to us all
— BennyBoyT (@bstokedude) July 7, 2017
So sad to hear the little poppet Bradley Lowery has died – the word inspiration is perhaps overused but he was – and a symbol of bravery
— Nicola Adam (@jabberingjourno) July 7, 2017
Rip Bradley Lowery 👼🏼 fly high little man 💗❤😪 pic.twitter.com/DHx4J85ZXC
— Hannah Brookfield (@hannahboo21590) July 7, 2017
All at Chelsea are deeply saddened to learn of Bradley Lowery's passing. He touched all of us with his bravery and winning smile. pic.twitter.com/aZneoHlFBf
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 7, 2017
Bradley Lowery reminded us what life was really about. Living to the full and making the most of every second. Rest in peace little man.
— David Bedwell (@DavidBedwell) July 7, 2017
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 7, 2017
RIP Bradley Lowery 😢💔
He won everyone's heart at this year's Grand National. Thoughts go out to all his family. pic.twitter.com/HdBTb0km6a
— Great British Racing (@GBRacing) July 7, 2017
There is only one Bradley Lowery , rest in peace , you have hit the heart ❤️ of the Nation , you are a star , you will Never be forgotten 💙💙
— Tracy Russell (@TracRuss) July 7, 2017
— Nottingham Forest FC (@NFFC) July 7, 2017
A reminder never to give up on your dreams and to fight when life gets hard. An inspirational, shining light. RIP Bradley Lowery 🙏🏼❤️
— Ben Mackrell (@ben_mackrell) July 7, 2017
You inspired us all with your bravery. Rest in peace, Bradley Lowery. pic.twitter.com/KOkoQlSZd3
— West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) July 7, 2017
On Saturday evening, Jermain Defoe took to Twitter to share his own heartbreaking tribute to the young boy he called his “best friend”:
Sleep tight little one… 💙 pic.twitter.com/iGqLXdvlVi
— Jermain Defoe (@IAmJermainDefoe) July 8, 2017
On Sunday afternoon, Bradley’s family took to Facebook to share details of Bradley’s funeral, writing:
“Bradley’s funeral will be held on Friday 14th of July, starting 11:15 at:
St. Josephs R.c Church
This is open to everyone who would like to come and celebrate Bradley’s life and pay their respects to show him how much he was loved.
Not everyone will fit in the church but they are having speakers for people to listen to the service outside and people can line the streets if they wish to do so.
They will then be having invite only private ceremony at a crematorium.
The family have requested for no media to be there unless they are not working and attending to pay their respects.
You can wear what ever you want for the funeral but the family and friends have chosen the theme cancer has no colours. So they are wearing football tops it doesn’t matter what team or colour.
Due to Bradley’s popularity they would like family flowers only and if you would like to make a donation this can be made to the Bradley lowery foundation.