Capitals mourn death of 15-year-old cancer patient, ‘lucky charm’

Alex Luey, the youth hockey player from Niagara Falls, Ontario, who became a good-luck charm and friend of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, lost his three-year battle with cancer Sunday.Luey’s father, Scott Luey announced the sad news on Twitter.”Early this morning our son Alex’s 3-year battle with cancer ended when he passed away in…

Alex Luey, the youth hockey player from Niagara Falls, Ontario, who became a good-luck charm and friend of Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, lost his three-year battle with cancer Sunday.

Luey’s father, Scott Luey announced the sad news on Twitter.

“Early this morning our son Alex’s 3-year battle with cancer ended when he passed away in his sleep at the hospital,” Scott Luey tweeted. “Alex battled bravely and touched many lives during his life.”

Tweet from @cao4poco: Early this morning our son Alex���s 3-year battle with cancer ended when he passed away in his sleep at the hospital. Alex battled bravely and touched many lives during his life. I won���t be on social media over the holidays but I will post funeral arrangements shortly. #LUEYstrong pic.twitter.com/KQqkoKqqNb

Luey was 15 years old but demonstrated a maturity and courage beyond his years since being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that caused him to have his right leg amputated, in September 2016. He was declared cancer free in 2017, but the cancer returned last year.

“Our Caps family heartbroken,” Ovechkin posted on Twitter. “So sad to hear Alex Luey pass away today. Such a great kid. He inspire me and our team with his strength. My family will pray for him and his mom and dad. Love you bro. I will miss seeing you in Toronto. Rest In Peace.”

Tweet from @ovi8: Our Caps family heartbroken…so sad to hear Alex Luey pass away today. Such a great kid. He inspire me and our team with his strength. My family will pray for him and his mom and dad. Love you bro. I will miss seeing you in Toronto. Rest In Peace. ������ #LueyStrong pic.twitter.com/Plb7CXUsEs

Capitals forward Tom Wilson also offered his condolences on Twitter, writing, “One of the kindest and bravest kids I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years. We will miss you.”

Tweet from @tom_wilso: One of the kindest and bravest kids I���ve had the pleasure of meeting over the years. We will miss you. #LueyStrong pic.twitter.com/MCy7aqB7A7

Ovechkin first met Luey after Sportsnet held its “Rogers Hometown Hockey” telecast in Niagara Falls on Oct. 8, 2017 and hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone surprised Luey with a video message from Ovechkin, his favorite NHL player. Ovechkin invited Luey to meet the Capitals at their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Nov. 25, 2017.

After promising to score a goal for Luey, Ovechkin had a hat trick in a 4-2 victory. Ovechkin also scored goals in two other games Luey attended that season and invited him and his family to Washington for the Capitals parade after they won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

“I always hoped they would win the Stanley Cup,” Luey said that day. “Never thought I’d be here at the parade.”

Luey initially became a fan of Ovechkin because they shared the same first name, but their connection went well beyond that. Before meeting Ovechkin for the first time, Luey said what he admired most about him was his toughness.

“If he gets hit, he’ll get back up,” Luey said.

Luey demonstrated similar determination throughout his battle. After learning the cancer returned last year and that the prognosis was not promising, he tried to make the most of the time he had left with his friends and family.

“If you were told you only had a week or two weeks to live, would you roll down and lay in your bed or would you go out and have the best two weeks of your life?” Luey asked in November 2017.

Luey also took inspiration from Terry Fox, the Canadian hero who died in 1981 after battling osteosarcoma. After having his right leg amputated, Fox attempted to run across Canada in 1980 to raise awareness and money for cancer research. 

Luey followed Fox’s example by getting involved in charity, organizing a fundraising campaign in his neighborhood for Ronald McDonald House, which provides financial aid to families with sick children so they can get housing near a hospitalized child. Knowing his 15th birthday on Oct. 1 might be his last, Luey turned the day into a fundraiser for The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and, with the help of family and friends, raised $8,643.

Receiving permission to leave the hospital for the evening, Luey attended the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime victory against the Maple Leafs on Oct. 29 and watched Ovechkin get four points (two goals, two assists), including the winning power-play goal.

“He’s our lucky charm; he always brings luck to this building,” Ovechkin said afterward. “It doesn’t matter how we play, bad or good, we always seem to get a point or two points.”

Video: Alex Luey talks about meeting Alex Ovechkin

Following the game, Luey visited the Capitals in their locker room, where he was presented with Washington’s player of the game helmet, a Washington Nationals batting helmet.

“He knows, if I score here it’s only for him,” Ovechkin said. “To see how he smiles, how he enjoys that moment, especially in these tough moments for him and his family, it’s big time. We’re going to pray for him and hope everything is going to be fine.”

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