Cleveland Browns Andy Lee honors late daughter with uniform number


Aug 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers punter Andy Lee (4) punts the ball out of the end zone with pressure from San Diego Chargers receiver Richard Goodman (15) during the first half at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns punter Andy Lee will be sporting the number eight on his uniform this fall in honor of his late daughter, Madeline.

After wearing No. 4 during his 11 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Lee is using his transition to Cleveland to switch to No. 8 to mark the number of days that Madeline lived before passing away from post-birth complications.

“I think sometimes, not necessarily by me and my wife, her life can get overlooked,” Lee told the team’s website. “She was here, she was a person but nobody got to meet her, nobody got to see her. She was really alive and really a person. It’s a way to honor her and kind of just give her some glory she deserves.”

Lee’s wife, Rachel, gave birth to Madeline, their third child (along with 5-year-old Ryan and 3-year-old Adam), in late January via a C-section. But after Madeline swallowed fluid during the procedure and struggled to breathe. Doctors inserted a breathing tube and placed the newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit, where only her parents were allowed to visit with her.

Five days after her birth, Madeline came down with an infection and passed away three days later.

While Lee says his family is still dealing with their loss, he also says they are finding blessings from the devastating event.

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“It’s just kind of changed the mindset of, say, your son’s outside and you don’t feel like getting up and throwing the ball with him because you’re tired. Well, get your butt up and go out there and do it because who knows?” Lee said. “You give everything you can to them because it shows that sometimes you don’t know if something is going to happen.

“It’s crazy how life is. In a way, that’s one of the positive things to come out of it. Life is really fragile even though sometimes you don’t think about it that way.”

While she may be gone, Madeline’s memory will live on every time Lee walks on the field with the number eight on his uniform and close to his heart.

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