Giants center Weston Richburg got the news on Monday night that 9-year-old Jayro Ponce had lost his battle with cancer.
“It’s sad that he was a young kid that didn’t get to live his life and didn’t get to experience the things that life brings,” said Richburg, who had befriended the child after hearing about his illness earlier this year. Ponce lived near Richburg’s home outside Amarillo, Texas. “God works everything out for the good, and right now it’s hard to see that. But I pray that [Ponce’s family] trusts that [from this] bad situation, there is going to be some good.”
Richburg visited Ponce, who was diagnosed last December with a malignant rhabdoid tumor, in April to help lift the child’s spirits. Richburg’s father than helped facilitate a visit in July from Ponce’s favorite NFL player, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Jayro, who lived in the heart of Cowboys’ country, became a Giants fan after seeing Beckham’s spectacular one-handed catch in a 2014 game against the Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
“I know Jayro left an impression on me,” Richburg said. “He was definitely an inspiration to me, for sure. If I feel like I’m getting tired, I can reflect on him and the strength that he showed in his fight, and the strength that his family showed in a difficult situation.”
Richburg will continue to wear a black and yellow “Team Jayro” wristband as a reminder of his little friend. And there might be another tribute when the Giants face the Cowboys in the regular-season opener at AT & T Stadium on Sept. 10.
“A lot of people haven’t even gone through what Jayro went through and what his family went through,” Richburg said. “[The wristband] is a reminder that I can look at and see that anything I’m going through is not that bad.”
Richburg said some players might put the child’s initials on their cleats for the opener. And Beckham may perform his own tribute.
“I think I heard something about maybe a special celebration after a touchdown, maybe in Dallas, in memory of Jayro,” Richburg said.