The news can be depressing at times. Thankfully, the sports world usually isn’t.
Yahoo Sports is taking a weekly look at the true spirit of sport — the highlights that will warm your heart and the acts of kindness that go beyond the game.
Come on. Let’s take a load off together.
Nylander comes through for fan with custom Leafs shoes
Earlier this week, Toronto Maple Leafs star William Nylander announced he will be switching his number from 29 to 88 for the upcoming NHL season.
The number change puts any of his fans who purchased a No. 29 Nylander jersey in a bit of a bind, but the young Swede stepped up with a generous solution.
Making the switch ... what’s old is new again #88— William Nylander (@wmnylander) July 15, 2019
I’ve got you covered Leafs Nation, go to @realsportstoronto to have your jersey recrested on me. pic.twitter.com/gQWHZVxQMo
Nylander is offering to pick up the tab for any fans who wish to have their jerseys re-crested, an offer that Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan couldn’t refuse. Shanahan’s son, a huge Nylander fan, apparently has at least three No. 29 jerseys in his collection.
The Leafs star’s promise to fans is certainly admirable, but Nylander went above and beyond for one particular supporter with some No. 29 gear that can’t be altered at Toronto’s Real Sports store.
Andrew Nielsen, a Nylander superfan with cerebral palsy, is the proud owner of a custom pair of Maple Leafs sneakers from Reebok, which feature Nylander’s No. 29 on the back. When Nielsen got wind of Nylander’s number change, he took to Twitter to share his disappointment.
Those flashy No. 29 shoes were soon going to be outdated, until Nylander stepped in with an incredible offer.
”Hey Andrew, I’ll get a pair of shoes with 88 for you. I’ll send a DM with info. Have a great day! https://t.co/81jPPABwe7— William Nylander (@wmnylander) July 16, 2019
Nielsen’s positive frame of mind shines through when you check out the comments in the thread from his initial tweet. The Leafs superfan recognizes that the No. 29 has a rich history in the organization, having been worn by Toronto legends including Felix Potvin, Mike Palmateer and Brad Smith.
With that in mind, Nielsen was happy to cherish the shoes as more than just “vintage” Nylander apparel, but he’ll soon be getting a fresh pair of custom 88s, just in time for the 2019-20 season.
Well done, Mr. Nylander!
Young goalie with prosthetic legs is an inspiration
It’s hard to find a more inspiring athlete than Lily Rosenthal.
Lily, who was adopted from Northwest China at age two, was born with a birth defect known as fibular hemimelia. With no fibula bone in both of her legs, Lily was born with clubbed feet and missing toes, which were amputated shortly after her adoption.
Growing up watching her older sister playing goalie in the hockey rinks of Wisconsin, Lily was inspired to do the same. When the young girl was outfitted with prosthetic legs, her perseverance and passion for sports really began to shine.
"Once the cast was off and she was fitted for prosthetics, she was off and running," said Laura, Lily’s mother in the video below. "If she wanted to try something, we didn't stop her. I don't think we could."
Lily quickly took to sports such as baseball and rock climbing, but it’s her passion for hockey that is getting a lot of attention on social media. The young goalie was registered for hockey camp, and her coaches were quickly impressed with her strength and perseverance.
“I’m just very inspired by her,” said Jinelle Siergiej, coach at the Crazy 8s Hockey Camp. “I have a camp of 88 girls here and they all notice Lily. I think it would be very hard for them not to be inspired by her. She works hard and she’s not letting it limit what she wants to do.”
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