Little Sunderland fan Bradley loses cancer battle
Bradley Lowery, the football mascot whose beaming smile touched thousands of people around the world, has died after a battle with cancer, his family have said.
The six-year-old Sunderland fan struck up a close friendship with star striker Jermain Defoe after he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
In a statement on the family's Facebook page Bradley's mother Gemma Lowery said: "My brave boy has went with the angels today 07/07/17 at 13:35, in mammy and daddies arms surrounded by his family.
"He was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed elsewhere. There are no words to describe how heartbroken we are. Thank you everyone for all your support and kind words. Sleep tight baby boy and fly high with them angel."
Bradley and Defoe were pictured snuggled up together at the youngster's home in Blackhall, Co Durham, last week after the little boy had a party in bed as a way of saying goodbye.
As Bradley continued to fight for his life, Defoe broke down in tears on Thursday at a Press conference with his new club Bournemouth when he was asked about their special bond. He said: "There is not a day that goes past where I do not wake up in the morning and check my phone or think about little Bradley because his love is genuine and I can see it in his eyes. It is special."
Bradley was a mascot for Sunderland several times last season and found a place in the hearts of thousands of football fans around the world.
Supporters of different clubs made banners and chanted his name at games. He was an England mascot at Wembley when Defoe scored on his return to the side.
And Defoe was guest of honour at a huge party thrown for Bradley's sixth birthday in May.
Supporters hoped a fundraising effort last year could get him to the United States for pioneering treatment, but his family announced at Christmas that his cancer was terminal.
They kept his many well-wishers around the world up to date by using social media, and in his final days his mother revealed that Bradley's health was deteriorating quickly.
Scotland and Stoke City midfielder Charlie Adam paid tribute on Twitter saying: "He was a little fighter."
Former England striker Stan Collymore said the football authorities should create a lasting tribute to Bradley.