Think about this for a moment: You're 16 years old, about to earn your driver's license. Suddenly, without much warning, your body betrays you. It's all over. Three days after suffering an asthma attack in his home, Elbert Jovante Woods, Ickey's son, passed away at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. He was only 16. The Bengals, who hosted Denver in a preseason game that weekend, remembered Woods with a moment of silence.
That was five years ago.
"I contemplated suicide a couple of times in the first three or four months," Woods said in a story via Bengals.com last year. "He went everywhere with me. He was like my shadow. That was a real heartbreaker. It was real trying on me."
Ickey Woods created a foundation, the Jovante Woods Foundation, after losing his son. It helped the elder cope (and eventually inspire) with dealing with such a heartbreaking loss. The foundation's goals are to raise awareness and education with asthma awareness and organ donation. The foundation's facebook page reads in part:
Out of this great loss Jovante’s parents, Ickey and Chandra, were inspired to educate and prevent others from experiencing the loss of a loved one. Unbeknownst to his parents, Jovante had chosen to become an organ donor. His remarkable decision resulted in 5 lives being saved. As a 3.8 student Jovante understood the importance of education, the foundation will continue to support his passion for learning providing annual scholarships to male and female senior athletes who exemplify his spirit for all life has to offer.
Woods continues to travel the country to help raise money for his foundation, which has benefited from Woods' return to the public eye with his Geico commercials. "The younger kids know me as Mr. Cold Cuts. They don’t know me for my playing days but that’s OK," he said via LimaOhio.com.
The foundation will always remain his first priority. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him in some capacity. Sometimes I break down and cry," Woods said last year. Woods made an appearance at Tri-County mall (on the north side of Cincinnati), to promote asthma awareness. "A real alarming statistic that just blew me away is that 11 people a day die from asthma," Woods said. "And I was like, wow, you know, I mean 11 people a day are dying, and no one's doing anything?"
Now someone is.