A cancer diagnosis never comes at the right time. But for children, it can be so much worse. The life-threatening illness makes children contemplate their own mortality. And while this can inspire people to seize life while they have it, it can also be very depressing. But when people step up to the challenge and do everything they can to battle cancer and WIN, then they can face life with a whole new kind of courage and bravery. And that’s what happened to Gunner Miller.
After cancer put this rising football star on the sidelines for two years, his father, who also happened to be the high school football coach, decided to put Gunner back in the game for the first time since he started fighting cancer. And Gunner was there to play the final snap of the team’s championship game.
Ever since doctors told Gunner he had Ewing’s Sarcoma back in 2015, he has been getting treated and was too weakened from the rare type of cancer of his bones to play football.
Gunner’s energy was spent enduring hours of therapy and rehab throughout most of 2015 and 2016. And as a result, Gunner was not allowed to play football for those seasons. Only on Thursday, a few days before Christmas 2017 did his father allow him to suit up and play during the high school’s biggest game of the season. They were matched up against their rivals Brock High School and were playing for the Class 3A Division I title game. The stakes were high, and Gunner wanted to win.
Gunner went into remission in August after he had surgery to remove a tumor.
His father, who coaches the team, did not want his son in the game. But Gunner’s teammates demanded that he play.
“It wasn’t even my idea. It was his teammates’ idea,” Jeff Miller told the Telegram following the game. “They came up to me and said, ‘Hey, would you be willing to do this?’ They didn’t have to ask me twice.”
Brock High was destroying Gunner’s team. They had taken a 21-0 lead after just one quarter. But Rockdale climbed back and scored four touchdowns to go into halftime 21-28.
And as Gunner stepped in for the final play, he helped ensure they were victorious. In the end, the Rockdale Tigers were crowned football state champions for the first time in four decades.
Gunner took a knee to win the game.
“We’ve dealt with adversity for so long and so often that we know a football game, a football season and life are going to be rough on you sometimes,” Jeff Miller said as he wept.
With the championship won, the Millers celebrated Christmas with their family in Texas.
Some MailOnline readers shared their thoughts about Gunner’s victory.
“There it is. The ONLY time a player should take a knee at a football game.”
“This is what team sports are really about. Building strength of both body and character. My Dad used to coach Boxing, and would have been in tears too if that were me.”
What is your reaction to this Christmas miracle?