AJ McCarron's special bond with leukemia survivor
CINCINNATI (Derek Drake) -- One of the newest Cincinnati Bengals has an inspiring bond with a little girl from Alabama who will soon be the flower girl in his wedding.
AJ McCarron's fiance, Katherine Webb, popped the question to Starla. And her response... Roll Tide! But how did McCarron come to know this inspiring little girl?
McCarron's Miraculous Recovery
When AJ McCarron was 5-years-old he was in a serious waverunner accident that put him in the hospital. McCarron suffered significant injuries to his face and head, and doctors told his family that he would likely die. But added, if he didn't die, he'd likely be a vegetable the rest of his life.
Not only did he prove doctors wrong, his miraculous recovery began to lead him down a road to two National Championships at the University of Alabama and to be drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the NFL Draft last week.
Meeting Starla. Just Trust.
Twenty years after his accident, McCarron returned to the University of South Alabama Children's and Women's Hospital to hand out presents to some of the patients on Christmas Eve.
On that visit, he met Starla. She's a huge Alabama Crimson Tide fan and was fighting leukemia when she met the star quarterback for her favorite team.
Starla's family was understandably devastated when they heard the news. To qualm their fears, Starla told them, "Just trust..." From then on, her family adopted that saying, creating wristbands with the phrase.
On the day that McCarron visited the hospital to deliver gifts, he took some extra time to talk with Starla and her family.
But Starla had a gift to give AJ... A yellow "#JustTrust. Team Starla" wristband. He took it and promised her that he would wear it in the National Championship game.
Then Starla took a turn for the worse. She had a seizure and went into cardiac arrest. Medical personnel were able to revive the little girl moments after her heart stopped, but was given less than a week to live.
Six days after Starla almost died, the Crimson Tide, led by McCarron took the field for the National Championship.
Starla's family, by her bedside, watched and cheered the team on to victory. Her mother told ESPN that Starla's blood pressure would go up every time they cheered.
Starla's father watched as AJ completed a long pass and threw his fist in the air, and on his wrist, they saw "Just Trust. Team Starla"
They told Starla, "He's wearing your bracelet!" The family told ESPN that it was so special to see AJ wearing that bracelet, because he said he would.
Days after the BCS Championship, McCarron came to check in on Starla -- after he had shoulder surgery -- and her family says seeing him brought life back into her face. A smile. From one miracle to another.
In March 2012, AJ McCarron became Starla's godfather.
McCarron still wears her bracelet as a reminder of his friend, her fight and two words... "Just Trust."
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