Geelong champion Gary Ablett has shared the heartbreaking news that his infant son Levi is battling a rare and degenerative disease.
Ablett, who celebrated his 350th AFL game milestone with a win against Gold Coast at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday, revealed his family's private struggles via an Instagram post on Sunday afternoon.
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“In the recent months, my wife and I have privately fought and continue to fight some pretty tough battles,” Ablett wrote.
“Some of you might already know that Jordan is caring for her mum as she battles with cancer.
“But what many of you don't know is that our son has been recently diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease.
“After a great amount of thought and consideration, we decided that it's time to share this with you.
“We thank you for your love and support and want to emphasise just how grateful we are to be Levi's parents.
“He is a true blessing to us and our family and we love him so deeply.
“Anyone who knows him knows how full of joy he is and how he always has a smile on his face.
“I would also like to thank the Geelong Football Club for the way you have cared for our family throughout this time, always ensuring that we feel loved and fully supported.
“The biggest thank you needs to go to my wife, Jordan. Without you I wouldn't have made it to 350 games.”
In a devastating twist, Ablett will now leave his young family and join his Cats teammates as they depart Victoria for an AFL hub in Sydney early this week.
Geelong will then head to another hub in Perth after round six - probably for the remainder of the AFL season due to Victoria’s virus outbreak.
Gary Ablett will be on the Cats flight to Sydney tonight at 8.30pm as he revealed today his son Levi was battling a rare degenerative disease. Big sacrifice from the little master. Players doing so much to keep the season alive https://t.co/o32TuLhM1z
— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) July 5, 2020
Needless to say, thoughts with Gary Ablett and his family. More important than footy.
— Daniel Cherny 📰 (@DanielCherny) July 5, 2020
👨🍼| Ablett to brave hub despite son’s shattering diagnosis
Brave Gary Ablett will join his Geelong teammates in their NSW hub in the wake of news his son has been diagnosed with a rare illness: https://t.co/R0qCp6nxEm pic.twitter.com/tcRhrFA4Ms
— SuperFooty (AFL) (@superfooty) July 5, 2020
Just caught up with the news on Gary Ablett Jnr’s son. I wish him and his family all the strength in the world. 🙏❤️
— Alex Oates (@AlexJOates11) July 5, 2020
Gary Ablett will make the trip to Sydney to be part of the Geelong hub but his family will remain in Victoria. It highlights the lengths players are going to in order to keep the competition, and by extension the many people employed by the AFL industry, afloat.
— Lachie Young (@lachie_young) July 5, 2020
Ablett and Selwood relish milestones
Joel Selwood's 300th AFL game proved a simple summation of his career to date: dominating contested football, leading from the front - and winning.
The Geelong captain was involved from the outset in a 37-point win over Gold Coast at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday.
But Selwood and Ablett, in game 350, almost looked set to have their party spoiled when the Suns took the lead in the third term - before class prevailed late.
“I think more than me it was our senior players that reminded the rest of the group that (these are) a couple of guys that deserved more than we were giving them,” Cats coach Chris Scott said post-match.
Selwood finished his night with 22 disposals, eight tackles, five clearances and four points.
“It's weird, it's wonderful right now,” he admitted.
“It's strange with no-one being here but we understand that there would have been a lot of people, so we're sad for them.”
For Ablett, the contest was a quieter affair at half-forward, with just 14 touches during the contest.
But the Little Master stole the show late, capping the victory with a tremendous long bomb.
“It was very nice,” Ablett told reporters after the siren.
“I hadn't touched the ball much and 'Hawk' had been saying to me for about 10 minutes, 'Mate, if I mark the ball outside 50, just lead back up at me and I'll get you one.'
“When I marked it I wasn't sure if it was going to make the distance but I was not passing it and I was just glad it went through.”
with Yahoo Sports staff