What was caused by an ugly diseases, the story of Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron and Starla Chapman is a beautiful thing.
In September 2011 when Starla was 2-years-old she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The Chapman family met McCarron and his family in December of 2011 at the University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital. He met Starla while he and other Alabama players were visiting sick children.
Ironically, McCarron was a patient at that same hospital after he was nearly killed in a jet ski accident as a young boy. The two formed a bond, leading Starla to give McCarron a yellow wristband with the words "Just Trust."
This was on the eve of Alabama's National Championship game against the LSU Tigers. McCarron wore the bracelet for the whole game, a 21-0 Crimson Tide win that gave McCarron his first championship ring. A few days after the victory, McCarron returned to Mobile to visit Starla in the hospital.
But just prior to McCarron seeing Starla again, she almost lost her battle with the disease.
Around 7:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 3, 2012, DeAndra Chapman wrote the following message on a CaringBridge page, a website that was providing family and friends with updates on the condition of her ailing 3-year-old daughter:
It is with an overwhelmingly heavy heart that I type this status. Today, after a seizure, Starla left us. And after two minutes of chest compressions she was revived. We later found that another ECHO showed even more decreased heart function than before. She is now on life support and we need a miracle!!!!!! I'm so hurt, and please don't ask any questions as I will not share any more information. I love my beautiful daughter with EVERY fiber of my being, GOD knows this, EVERYONE knows this. Please pray!!!! Pray for a MIRACLE!!!!
Starla would eventually recover, and began several bouts of chemotherapy.
As Starla recovered, she and McCarron continued to form a bond that eventually led to Starla becoming McCarron's goddaughter.
Starla was finally ruled to be cancer free on April 11, 2012.
Recently, AJ's then-fiance, Katherine Webb, invited Starla to be their wedding flower girl.
This story will be one of the featured 'Don't Give Up' moments shown at the ESPYs Wednesday night.