When Sammie, a former Auburn wide receiver, saw then 12-year-old Kenzie Ray sitting by herself after a game in 2013 as he left the stadium locker room, he didn’t know her story. But he knew that look in her eyes and the big-time talent in the midst of a breakout season didn’t hesitate to walk over and strike up a conversation. Out of that conversation he learned Kenzie was battling a horrible rare form of leukemia. The wristband Kenzie gave Sammie after that brief encounter was the first step in what would blossom into a genuine kinship.
The summer of 2014 was an extremely difficult time for Kenzie and the Ray family. She was battling pneumonia following a recent round of chemotherapy that significantly compromised her immune system. Doctors said Kenzie might not make it through the night. So Kenzie’s mom Keisha called Sammie to give him an update. Three hours later, to the surprise of the Ray family, Sammie was at the hospital holding Kenzie’s hand and praying – assuring the family he believed she was going to make it. And she did.
Sammie finished his career at Auburn, was drafted in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and played in the NFL for five-plus years while maintaining his friendship with Kenzie and the Ray family.