Manchester City and England star Raheem Sterling will cover the costs for the funeral of Crystal Palace youth player Damary Dawkins, who lost his battle with leukaemia last month.
Sterling had been a big supporter of the push to find a stem cell donor for the 13-year-old boy and grew close to him and his family.
Damary had been fighting acute lymphoblastic leukaemia since he was nine and his final hope had been stem cell’s from a suitable donor. Sterling himself was tested but was not a match but he lent his voice to the campaign to have more stem cell donor’s of Afro-Caribbean descent register on the worldwide donor list.
“Damary was a special young man who touched a lot of lives, including my own. Positive until the end, he was an example to us all,” Sterling said of his young friend.
Sterling lifted his England shirt to reveal a picture of Damary and himself together after he completed his brace in the 5-0 win over the Czech Republic in last month’s European Championship qualifiers.
His father told the Press Association about the relationship between Sterling and his son in an interview shortly after Damary passed away.
“I knew that they used to speak because (Sterling) came down to the hospital, they played pool together and apparently they swapped numbers,” he said.
Tony Dawkins, the boy’s father, revealed that the pair shared a good natured friendship.
“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,” he said.
“(The shirt tribute) was very, very touching and fitting. I know Damary touched his heart.”
Sterling will attend the funeral service for Damary in Dagenham on Friday.