6-year-old English soccer mascot dies of cancer

Bradley Lowery,front, is holding hands with England's Jermain Defoe prior to the World Cup Group F qualifying soccer match between England and Lithuania at the Wembley Stadium in London, Great Britain, Sunday, March 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Bradley Lowery, a soccer mascot who struck up a close friendship with England striker Jermain Defoe after being diagnosed with a rare cancer and gained fans across the sport, has died. He was 6.

Lowery’s family said Friday in a statement on its Facebook page that he died in the arms of his mother and father.

The statement said “he was our little superhero and put the biggest fight up but he was needed elsewhere.”

Lowery, who had neuroblastoma, was a mascot for Premier League team Sunderland several times last season and formed a bond with the club’s then-striker, Defoe, who now plays for Bournemouth. He also was a mascot for an England game at Wembley Stadium in March, and supporters of different clubs made banners and chanted his name at games.

Fans had hoped a massive fundraising effort last year could get him to the United States for pioneering treatment, but his family announced in December that his cancer was terminal.

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