Cancer vic­tim’s death hits Gi­ants

9-year-old made im­pres­sion

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY TOM CANA­VAN

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. | There was a sense of loss as Odell Beck­ham Jr. and Weston Rich­burg took the field for the start of the New York Gi­ants’ sec­ond week of train­ing camp.

It had noth­ing to do with foot­ball for the all-ev­ery­thing wide re­ceiver and the much-less known start­ing cen­ter.

The sad­ness re­volved around the life of 9-year-old Jayro Ponce of Fol­lett, Texas, and his death on Mon­day fol­low­ing a bat­tle with rare form of cancer.

Rich­burg of Bush­land, Texas, met

Ponce in a hos­pi­tal in the off­sea­son. Beck­ham, who was

Ponce’s fa­vorite player, met the young man a cou­ple of days be­fore the Gi­ants re­ported to train­ing camp on Thursday. Ponce made an im­pres­sion on both. Rich­burg re­mem­bers walk­ing into the room on Apr. 8 in the Har­ring­ton Cancer Cen­ter, meet­ing the child and re­call­ing his big smile.

“I prob­a­bly could have han­dled it bet­ter,” the 26-year--old Rich­burg said. “But that sit­u­a­tion, hav­ing some­body in that sit­u­a­tion want­ing to have some­thing to do with you is kind of life-chang­ing. You don’t ex­pe­ri­ence that every day. It re­ally had a big im­pact on me and showed me that peo­ple are watch­ing me and I have an im­pact whether I like it or not.”

Beck­ham was not avail­able to be in­ter­viewed Tues­day af­ter prac­tice, but it was clear the death of Ponce af­fected him.

“I don’t even kno where to start,” he wrote on his In­sta­gram ac­count. “It’s hard to even fully un­der­stand th­ese sit­u­a­tions. Crushed, hurt, up­set this one cut deep. I had the plea­sure of meet­ing this young man. Truly an amaz­ing per­son filled wit beau­ti­ful en­ergy. Against alll odds u fought lil bro, ev­ery­day, day af­ter day. For your­self and for your fam­ily.”

Beck­ham wrote that meet­ing Ponce taught him more than he could have imag­ined.

“To the fam­ily I thank u for al­low­ing me to visit wit yu guys and be there to sup­port,” Beck­ham wrote. “I’ll be here for life for u guys. I kno Jayro is in a bet­ter place and that God now has him. Rest in Peace Jayro.”

Talk­ing about Ponce last week, Rich­burg seemed to know that his chances of sur­viv­ing were not good.

“Ob­vi­ously you hope and pray that you see some good come out of it and there is a turn for the bet­ter, but that’s not the way it ended up,” Rich­burg said.

His hope is that the fam­ily can find some peace.

“As hu­mans we see death as a bad thing, and it is,” Rich­burg said. “It is sad that he was a young kid that didn’t get a chance to live his life and didn’t get a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the things that life brings. But I be­lieve what it says in Ro­mans 8:28 in the Bi­ble, ‘God works ev­ery­thing out for the good.’ Right now it is hard to see that.”

Rich­burg in­tends to wear his Team Jayro bracelet go­ing for­ward. He added Beck­ham might cel­e­brate a touch­down with a special dance.

“Maybe in Dal­las in mem­ory of Jayro,” Rich­burg said of the Gi­ants’ open­ing game this sea­son against the Cowboys.

Beck­ham

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New York Gi­ants cen­ter Weston Rich­burg said meet­ing cancer pa­tient Jayro Ponce, 9, in April was “kind of life-chang­ing” and “had a big im­pact on me.” Jayro died Mon­day.

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