GREEN BAY, Wisconsin -- A 12-year-old boy who designed what turned out to be lucky cleats for Green Bay Packers star running back and El Paso native Aaron Jones has died from a rare cancer, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reports.
Ethan Haley, who gave Jones the colorful, custom-made cleats in November, has now died just weeks later of anaplastic ependymona. The National Institutes of Health describes the condition - which required Haley to undergo numerous surgeries, as one in which tumors begin to rapidly form on the brain and spinal cord.
Jones wore those very cleats designed by Haley as he ran a 77-yards for touchdown in the Packers' Dec. 6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The boy watched on TV as his football hero made the big game-winning score.
The Press-Gazette reports that Haley's passing came about the time that Jones learned last week he had been selected for the NFL's Pro Bowl.
Haley had battled the rare disease for some time and Jones said the upstate New York youngster's fighting spirit inspired him during a video call back when he received the cleats, which were designed as part of campaign to benefit a non-profit childhood cancer group.
“I was truly humbled to meet Ethan and his family. It tugged on the heartstrings a bit, but in an uplifting way, because his smile and positivity is so infectious,” Jones was quoted as saying at the time. “As a father, I definitely think about all of the kids and their families facing this challenge each day and I’m so inspired by their fight.”