13-year-old Damary Dawkins sadly passed away last month.
RAHEEM STERLING WILL pay for the funeral of Damary Dawkins, the Crystal Palace youth player who died of cancer last month at the age of 13.
Dawkins’ family had set up a fundraising page to raise £15,000 for the ceremony after acute lymphoblastic leukaemia ended his life on 17 March, four years after he was diagnosed.
Sterling helped support a campaign to help find a stem cell donor for the teenager, who relapsed in February following a transplant in December.
The Manchester City star paid tribute to him on the field days after his death when he scored for England against Czech Republic, lifting his shirt to show a picture of him standing with the youngster.
After the match he told ITV: “I thought I had to do something to try to give his family something to smile about.”
Now the 24-year-old will pay for the proceedings to help Dawkins’ family give him a good send off. “Damary was a special young man who touched a lot of lives, including my own,” the City star said, describing him as “an example to us all” and praising him for staying “positive until the end”.
The pair enjoyed a close relationship and spoke regularly as Sterling visited the youngster in hospital.
Speaking to the Press Association about Sterling’s tribute during the 5-0 win at Wembley last month, Damary’s father, Tony, said: “It was a pleasant surprise.
“I knew that they used to speak because [Sterling] came down to the hospital, they played pool together and apparently they swapped numbers.
“I remember when Crystal Palace played Manchester City and they lost Damary put on his tracksuit with the Crystal Palace badge and took a picture to send to Raheem. They had banter with each other.“It was very, very touching and fitting. I know Damary touched his heart.”
And Dawkins’ fight against his disease proved inspirational to his father, as he said: “He fought to the end and I call him a soldier, I take my hat off to him. I’ve got nothing but respect for him.
“No one knew until I said to somebody that he had cancer, they would have never believed it.
“He never, ever complained, he never moaned, all the time he just got on with it and did what he had to do to.
“He never really thought about himself, he just thought about others.”