- Bradley Lowery has passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer
- He lived a full life despite his tender years through his love of football
- The six-year-old became best friends with ex-Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe
- He led out England and his beloved Sunderland as well alongside Defoe
Bradley Lowery was the boy who touched the hearts of millions across the globe. Although he came to the attention of the public because of his battle with cancer, it was his courage, fighting spirit and megawatt smile that will linger longest in the memory.
Bradley, who sadly past away on Friday afternoon, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2013, but packed so much into his short time, touching the lives of so many along the way.
Despite being just six years old and struggling with his debilitating disease, he bought so much joy to those around him – and one man in particular.
Bradley Lowery was a huge Sunderland fan and described Jermain Defoe as his ‘best friend’
Bradley loved the Black Cats and is seen here in 2016 with a signed shirt at the Stadium of Light
The young Sunderland fan left an indelible mark on the hearts of football fans across the globe despite his tender years, hitting the headlines with his infectious smile and love for the Black Cats.
He described striker Jermain Defoe, now with Bournemouth, as his ‘best friend’, and the pair made plenty of high-profile appearances together.
The youngster led his favourite team out alongside Defoe in September against Everton last year, receiving a rapturous reception from the crowd. The Toffees later donated £200,000 to help the Lowery family pay for treatment in America.
Sunderland players, officials and fans took part in a minute’s applause on Friday evening
Sunderland fans joined in the tributes to the schoolboy, who passed away on Friday
Bradley’s bravery during his cancer battle had touched the hearts of both young and old
The youngster was carried out as Sunderland team mascot for the game against Swansea
The six-year-old hugs his hero and ‘best friend’ Defoe as he’s carried out for the Swansea game
Another proud moment for Bradley came when he was mascot for England v Lithuania in 2016
Bradley also made the trip to see Everton play, with Romelu Lukaku holding the youngster
Defoe was a regular visitor to see Bradley in hospital as he underwent treatment for his illness
He then went one better in March this year when, alongside Defoe once more, he was a mascot with England for their game against Lithuania in front of an adoring Wembley crowd.
Defoe said in a press conference days before his passing: ‘I don’t really know how to put into words how I feel. It has been a special time having that relationship with Brad.
‘I speak to the family every day, I was with them a few days ago and it was tough to see him suffer like that.
The youngster with the infectious smile won the goal of the month award for January this year
He also was a mascot for Sunderland’s 3-0 defeat against Everton alongside Defoe
‘I felt I was prepared for it after what I went through with my dad but it was so tough to see a kid of that age who has been going through this for so long and got to the stage where he is obviously struggling.’
Young Bradley also stole the show at the Sports Personality of the Year awards in December 2016, rocking a blue suit and bow tie along with his trademark grin.
Bradley’s father Carl carries Bradley off the pitch before the Swansea game in May this year
Despite his obvious struggles, Bradley never stopped smiling and rocked the red carpet at the Sports Personality of the Year awards in December last year
Bradley waves as he helps lead England out for their qualifier against Lithuania in March
To add to his impressive CV, Bradley even won Match of the Day goal of the month competition for January for his goal, a penalty past Asmir Begovic on the Stadium of Light pitch during half-time of the defeat against Chelsea.
Although he finally lost his long battle, Bradley shone brightly in his six years and packed more into his short time than most manage in a lifetime.
When Bradley led Sunderland out alongside Defoe for the Black Cats’ game against Everton in September last year, fans sung ‘There’s only one Bradley Lowery’. They couldn’t have been more right.
Bradley and Defoe were on the big screen at the Professional Footballers’ Association Awards
Sunderland fans show their support for Bradley as his name appears on the big screenWest Brom supporters showed their appreciation for Bradley and his family last year
In the words of the Sunderland supporters – there’s only one Bradley Lowery