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It’s been about a month since NFL player Chris Draft lost his wife to cancer just one month after they said “I do.” The couple’s heartbreaking story and memorable wedding day ceremony cause many to feel for Chris’ loss and admire the love they shared, and in an exclusive interview with Essence.com, he opened up about Keasha’s battle with cancer and his favorite memories of his late wife.

On why he shared her story with the world

“We put the pictures up [online] so people could really see the life in her, not just how she passed away. We want people to see that her faith allowed her to live before her diagnosis, and to continue to live with it, and find the joy in each day. Even when you get bad news, you have to find the joy in life, which is definitely not easy. Most of the pictures in the montage people have seen are from the past year. She was still enjoying her friends, and still enjoying her family. Yes, it was a little different with cancer being there, but at the same time, you find a way to enjoy it. That’s where you’re at, you know?”

How they handled her diagnosis

“It was never, “Oh, I’m just going to smile through it.” Keasha was like, ‘I’m going to fight. We’re going to do what we have to do to go after this.’ Stage 4 lung cancer is not a good diagnosis. I mean, the numbers are horrible, and to get that news without even having a sign beforehand, makes it that much tougher. She knew she had great friends, and great family, and a great support system, and she said, ‘Okay, so what do I have to do to fight? We’re going to fight it each and every day.’ Getting the full diagnosis, and knowing exactly what we were fighting, was a very hard process. She did such a great job of really looking at it like, ‘Hey, I have to do this in order to have a chance to be better.’ She stuck with that and continued to smile, even after she went to appointment after appointment.”

His favorite memory of Keasha

“I played an away game once, and she got three of her friends to help her bring this big ol’ live Christmas tree into my condo as a surprise. I came back from a long, tough day of playing, and I walk in, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ There was the most beautiful, perfect tree right there in my living room. It was the absolute example of what it means to actually be playing in the league and still have your woman right there with you, supporting you, and it was a tremendous feeling. When you’re away sometimes your family can’t be there, or you travel for holidays and they have to come to you, but she made it where Christmas was there, and I was home. It was so beautiful. I was looking at the pictures the other day and the tree was so big — actually bigger than I remember. She liked surprises. That same Christmas she put together this scrapbook for me that had pictures from the season, articles that talked about my community work, and photos from my family. It was perfect. The great thing about her was that she really paid attention to the little things. She appreciated all of who I am, not just me, the football player.”

Their wedding day

“I wanted her to just be able to really enjoy it. That was my only focus. She was able to get up. She was able to walk. She was able to dance. Dancing was just her. Her 88-year-old grandmother got up at our wedding and she started dancing, and she got Keasha back up and she started dancing too. The weather was perfect. It was 70 degrees on Thanksgiving weekend – wow. It seemed like everything just worked itself out for her. It was so beautiful. Her friends and family were all able to be there. It was a good day — a good weekend.”

His Valentine’s Day Message to Keasha

“Keasha, I‘ll always love you. We’re gonna keep fighting. We’re gonna keep fighting! We’re gonna keep inspiring people and help to change people’s lives, I promise.”

Check out the rest of his interview on Essence.com, and here’s another look at the couple’s special wedding day.

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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