Although Miami Heat’s LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lost to the Indiana Pacers in Game 4, they were winners in one family’s eyes.
Just before the game, Wade and James learned that 10-year-old Bella Rodriguez-Torres of South Florida had died following a six-year battle with cancer. To honor the Miami Heat fan, James and Wade wore shoes during the game with #LiveLikeBella written on them.
“Dwyane came to me with the story today, it was a no-brainer,” James told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s sad. It puts everything in perspective. At the end of the day, this game is just basketball. Two great teams, we’re competing. But its just basketball.”
Rodriguez-Torres became paralyzed at the age of four from a tumor on her spine and was diagnosed with stage four Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. From that point on, her life was filled with chemotherapy, radiation, and numerous surgeries.
According to The Miami Herald, doctors were amazed when she recovered from the aggressive form of cancer, which her family and others believe was a miracle.
The little girl became a sensation on social media through her struggle, including a web site, a Facebook page which boasted more than 55,000 followers, and a presence on Twitter, where #LiveLikeBella was trending nationally shortly after her death.
The same phrase worn by the Heat players, “Live Like Bella” was a phrase coined by Rodriguez-Torres’ father, Raymond, who wrote a book about his daughter’s battle with the disease.
As her condition deteriorated over the last few months, Rodriguez-Torres’ parents made the difficult decision to stop treatment and place her in hospice care in early May.
“There are few words that can describe what it feels like to have to make a decision of this magnitude. While it has been painstaking to decide to no longer fight and now just ensure her comfort, we are at peace,” her mother, Shannah, told Miami CBS affiliate WBFS at the time.