Youth football teammates tackle cancer together

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Nine-year-old Elijah Lewis started playing sports when he was three. Last year he started playing youth football and he is one proud Wildcat.

"Last year was his first year for tackle football. Being able to play on a tackle team was a really big thing for him," said Lakesha Lewis, Elijah's mother.

His first season ended. It was Christmas break and Elijah wasn't feeling well. After several doctor's visits, Elijah's family found out he had leukemia.

"It take a toll on you. The hospital becomes your second home," said Lewis.

Elijah's a fighter and his Wildcat teammates were there.

"They've supported us though his diagnosis and this journey," said Lewis.

One of those teammates is Joey Santiago.

"This time last year our kids were both on the football field," said Jillian Presley, Joey Santiago's mom.

He didn't know Joey too well then. This year, things are different. Joey's at Texas Children's. He too was diagnosed with leukemia, six months after Elijah. Just like Elijah's teammates were there for him, Elijah is now there for Joey.

"Elijah's been like the one that's been there for this," said Presley.

"I feel kind of sad because he's going through the same thing I am," said Elijah Lewis.

The two are teammates on and off the field.

"Right now, we're catching that ball and we're running and we're trying to get through the process," said Lewis.

Elijah and Joey were not able to play football this year, but their teammates have been there for them. They retired their jerseys, number four and number six.

"Even though it's been a year since he played on the team they still thought enough of him and Joey to support them," said Lewis.

Elijah is still tackling, this time it's cancer and he's determined to beat it. He goes back to school for the first time since his diagnosis on Monday.

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