Lamar Jackson's legacy lives on off the gridiron in what he did for fans

Lamar Jackson's time at Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It was just a moment captured on camera - a football player hugging his fan - but it's the moments like these that live on. It was before Louisville took on Duke at home in 2016 when Lamar Jackson spent a few minutes meeting with one of his biggest fans, Amzie Smith.


"He came off the bus to meet her and what she said was, 'He came right to me. There was a crowd of people. He knew who I was. He came right to me,'" Kathy Douglas, Amzie's mother, said. "And she said, 'He gave me a big hug.'"


Amzie was then in the final months in her fight against liver cancer. Jackson was months away from winning the Heisman Trophy, the first one won by a Cardinal. Their meeting was set up by Louisville's chaplain and head of the university's Fellowship of Christian Athletes, who happened to go to church with Amzie. It was a chance for the brave girl, who had been told she may have weeks left to live, to meet one of her heroes the day before her 17th birthday.


"It made it even a bigger deal to her how humble he was," Douglas said. "She said, 'Mom, it would be so easy to get caught up in that.'"


Amzie met with Jackson and the rest of the team and even entered Papa John's Cardinal Stadium before the game with the rest of the Cardinals, taking part in the Card March, flanked by the adoring Cardinal faithful.


"He gave her a football that said, 'Stay strong. Keep fighting,'" Douglas said. "And that football sat on her shelf beside her bed until the day she died and it was always there."


Amzie died on January 6, 2017, her passing mourned by many friends, including one of her heroes. Jackson tweeted that day, "You in a great place now Amzie forever live on."


"He was being Lamar genuinely and that's what I think she really liked about him," Douglas said.


Jackson announced Friday his intention to leave Louisville before his senior year to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL, an announcement that has led to an outpouring of support from many fans. But for Amzie's family, they'll be rooting a little harder for the star quarterback, forever thankful he took time to make a young woman's wish come true.


"I know there's a girl up in heaven cheering for him every step of the way," Douglas said.

© 2018 WHAS-TV


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