Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) is tackled by Miami Dolphins cornerback Kader Kohou (28) during the second half of an NFL football game in Orchard Park, N.Y., Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.
Adrian Kraus, Associated Press
Prior to the start of the Buffalo Bills’ most recent game, a 32-29 victory over Miami, star wide receiver Stefon Diggs surprised a young fan with a gift to honor the boy’s late father.
Diggs handed 5-year-old Aydin Laborde a shoebox. Inside was a pair of custom sneakers in the Bills’ colors that featured a hand-painted picture of Aydin and his father Nick Laborde. Diggs then signed the shoes.
.@stefondiggs gave 5-year old @BuffaloBills fan Aydin a very special early Christmas gift: custom sneakers in memory of Aydin’s late father. ❤️💙 (via @BuffaloBills)pic.twitter.com/bSYJJEoKDB
— NFL (@NFL) December 18, 2022
“Diggs managed to put this little light back in Aydin’s eyes and a smile too,” Aydin’s mom, Alma Duric, told the Buffalo Bills’ Grace Heidinger. “He said it was the best day ever and he hasn’t said that in so long, so I can’t thank Diggs enough.”
Aydin’s father unexpectedly died from a brain aneurysm in March, according to Buffalo’s WKBW and the family’s GoFundMe page.
Diggs can relate to losing a father at a young age. He lost his father to congestive heart failure in January 2008, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“Not many know what it’s like to lose they daddy for real,” Diggs tweeted. “I remember it felt like I lost everything. I had to make myself a man. But it takes a village so be sure to always pay it forward.”
Not many know what it’s like to lose they daddy for real. I remember it felt like i lost everything. I had to make myself a man. But it takes a village so be sure to always pay it forward !!! Love that is 💪🏾💪🏾 Merry Christmas lil aydin ❤️ pic.twitter.com/9qc2UmENWK
— DIGGS (@stefondiggs) December 20, 2022
Sunday wasn’t the first time the two have met. Diggs and Aydin quickly became friends after meeting in August at training camp.
At the time, Diggs was informed that a young fan had recently lost their father, so the receiver went behind the barricade separating the fans and players and grabbed Aydin from the stands. He then shared some words of encouragement with his new friend.
“I don’t think Diggs realized what that one little moment with Aydin meant and how much of an impact it’s had on him and all of our family,” Duric said.
Stefon Diggs heard that 5-year-old Aydin Laborde’s father recently passed away after practice. He spent a few minutes with Aydin, grabbing him from the stands after walking around the barricade. Nice moment.
Here’s the Go Fund Me for Aydin’s family ➡️ https://t.co/650athUqkj pic.twitter.com/YZWM4Ud2Ke
— Matt Parrino (@MattParrino) August 1, 2022
A few days later, Diggs and Aydin were reunited at the Bills’ Blue and Red scrimmage. Diggs spotted Aydin in the front row, wearing Diggs’ jersey, which the receiver ended up signing.
He also signed a football for the young fan. Aydin lets no one touch his football because “his friend Diggs signed it,” Duric told Heidinger.
.@StefonDiggs’ buddy Aydin, who recently lost his father, was back at practice today for another special moment with 14. ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/JFUtYRy9R3
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) August 6, 2022
“It was perfect timing,” Duric said. “Christmas time, it’s tough for him given his dad is not going to be here. But it was just a little gesture like that and his attitude is just 360 now. I’m thankful that we can at least have somewhat of a smile this year because of what the Bills have done for us.”