Some days sports takes a back seat to reality. This is true even for passionate Cleveland Browns fans. Today is one of those days as we hear of new punter Andy Lee's tribute to the daughter he lost in January.
Lee has decided to change his jersey from No. 4 to No. 8 in honor of the number of days Madeline Lee lived after being born. Andy's wife Rachel gave birth to their third child in January but Madeline passed away 8 days later due to complications from birth.
Lee spoke to the Browns official site about his decision to change numbers and what it means to him and his wife:
“I think sometimes, not necessarily by me and my wife, her life can get overlooked. She was here, she was a person but nobody got to meet her, nobody got to see her,” Lee said. “She was really alive and really a person. It's a way to honor her and kind of just give her some glory she deserves.”
The article goes on to give some details of the medical complications that cost the Lee's their child.
The loss of a child is as difficult as it gets. No words, no time, no life event can make anything better for the Lee's. Changing his number won't either, but for Andy this is a chance to do something special for his daughter and will be a reminder of her life every time he puts on that No. 8 jersey.
We live in a world where Johnny Manziel throwing a water bottle gets two days of attention from the sporting world. Where domestic violence, substance abuse and other forms of poor behavior seem to cast a cloud on the game we love. When wins and losses are treated like the be all, end all. In the midst of all of that, Andy Lee's tribute is worth all the attention and more.
It also is a reminder to us that professional athletes are humans, too. While they get a lot of fame and earn a lot of money to play a game for their job, they have real-life struggles as well. None greater than the one Andy, Rachel and their other two children having been dealing with since January.
A simple number change: A poignant reminder of a life gone far too quickly.