Kiss the Cup

 

Laila Anderson is an 11-year old St. Louis Blues hockey fan. When her parents took her to games she would make her way to the tunnel leading back to the home dressing room and fist-bump the players on their way in. She became such a fixture the players started to notice her.

Two years ago she was diagnosed with HLH, or Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis, a disease so rare only 15 children in the United States are known to have it. Simply put, it makes your white blood cells attack other cells in your body, deeply compromising your immune system.

She has become the team’s inspiration. She has had to spend months in isolation as she received bone marrow transplants. And she’s become good friends with Blues defenseman Colton Parayko. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “We might lose a hockey game and we’re so frustrated and go home upset, but people are out there trying to battle for their lives. That’s the way she is. The thing she taught me is — just be a warrior. It’s meant a lot, because she continues to battle, yet she’s always happy.”

When Laila underwent her last treatment the Blues were dead last in the National Hockey League. As she battled, they battled. All the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

When the Blues lost Game 6 of The Finals on Sunday, it set up a winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday night. The Blues could not go to Boston without her. With clearance from her doctors, Laila was in the stands as the Blues captured the franchise’s first championship in their 52-year history.

And then she made her way down to the ice. Tonight, Laila Anderson upheld one of the grandest traditions in sports. Tonight Laila Anderson kissed Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Published in General, Sports
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There are 16 comments.

  1. Percival Thatcher

    Outstanding post, EJ.

    • #1
    • June 12, 2019, at 9:15 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. AUMom Member

    Great story. Now I’m a wee bit weepy. 

    • #2
    • June 12, 2019, at 9:20 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Al French, sad sack Member

    AUMom (View Comment):

    Great story. Now I’m a wee bit weepy.

    Only a wee bit?

    • #3
    • June 12, 2019, at 9:41 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. jmelvin Member

    Tears, what tears? Thanks EJ.

    • #4
    • June 13, 2019, at 2:58 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  5. EODmom Coolidge

    Hockey is a family sport. Sweet snap. Thanks. 

    • #5
    • June 13, 2019, at 5:16 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Stad Thatcher

    Hollywood couldn’t script a happier ending . . .

    • #6
    • June 13, 2019, at 6:44 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Buckpasser Member

    Hockey is a wonderful game and Hockey players are the most normal of all pro athletes.

    • #7
    • June 13, 2019, at 7:12 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. Patrick McClure Member

    Dammit EJ, you made my eyes water.

    • #8
    • June 13, 2019, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill Post author

    Buckpasser: Hockey is a wonderful game and Hockey players are the most normal of all pro athletes.

    These kind of stories aren’t all that unusual. Most professional athletes that I’ve known are great with their young fans. And if they have children of their own they understand the blessings of good health.

    As for hockey players specifically, they understand the position of their sport in the public’s mind. When I was producing college sports it amused me how uncooperative the staff and players on women’s basketball could be. I was told it was impossible to bother them for a five minute interview on game days. If I wanted to get them on camera they’d set up a time earlier in the week, because nobody could be expected to talk to media a mere two hours before a game. As I told the coach, “Don’t give me that. Hockey players not only talk on game day, they’ll talk to us during the freaking game!”

    • #9
    • June 13, 2019, at 7:57 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. EODmom Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Buckpasser: Hockey is a wonderful game and Hockey players are the most normal of all pro athletes.

    These kind of stories aren’t all that unusual. Most professional athletes that I’ve known are great with their young fans. And if they have children of their own they understand the blessings of good health.

    As for hockey players specifically, they understand the position of their sport in the public’s mind. When I was producing college sports it amused me how uncooperative the staff and players on women’s basketball could be. I was told it was impossible to bother them for a five minute interview on game days. If I wanted to get them on camera they’d set up a time earlier in the week, because nobody could be expected to talk to media a mere two hours before a game. As I told the coach, “Don’t give me that. Hockey players not only talk on game day, they’ll talk to us during the freaking game!”

    We lived close to the San Jose Arena after it was built for the Sharks. Many players lived in our area (married and single) and we saw them OFTEN in our village getting ice cream or pizza. They never declined a chat or an autograph. They were heros to all. And the open practices at the practice ice were jammed. They always made eye contact. Boston is not as small town as San Jose, but when you see Bruins players strolling doing real life, they are happy to talk their sport. I’m partial to boys and partial to hockey…..

    • #10
    • June 13, 2019, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Leslie Watkins Member

    The best kiss, ever. Thanks, EJ.

    • #11
    • June 13, 2019, at 8:26 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. cdor Member

    That was beautiful! Thanks for pointing out such an inspiring story @ejhill. I am not a hockey fan. But dear friends are from St Louis, so I watched the game last night as we texted back and forth. I was impressed, to say the least. Hockey is non stop action. They don’t even take time out to substitute players. These guys are huge, fast, agile, and tough. It’s quite the sport. Congrats to the Blues.

    • #12
    • June 13, 2019, at 8:40 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Vance Richards Member

    I don’t really follow the NHL (although my gut reaction is always to root against Boston regardless of the sport) but this is a great story

    • #13
    • June 13, 2019, at 10:04 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. EODmom Coolidge

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    I don’t really follow the NHL (although my gut reaction is always to root against Boston regardless of the sport) but this is a great story

    Is that how I reflexively root against the Blackhawks and the Penguins? And the Saints are my back-up NFL team?

    • #14
    • June 13, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Shauna Hunt Member

    Thank you for such an uplifting post! I needed it today.

    • #15
    • June 13, 2019, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. AUMom Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    I don’t really follow the NHL (although my gut reaction is always to root against Boston regardless of the sport) but this is a great story

    Funny how that works, isn’t it?

    Although, our local 1A team is a farm club for the Red Sox so we pull for them occasionally but are actually NL people at heart. 

    • #16
    • June 13, 2019, at 5:41 PM PDT
    • 1 like