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Chris Draft Opens Up About Losing Wife Keasha To Cancer, Sends Valentine's Message To Her

Previously, we told you about the amazing love story of former NFLer Chris Draft who lost his beloved wife Lakeasha (Keasha) Rutledge (of one month)  to lung cancer.  Now, Chris is opening up about her life, their love and sharing memories of Keasha.  Read more inside........

 

Chris Draft recently spoke to ESSENCE about the love of his life, professional cheerleader Keasha Rutledge, who passed away one month after their marriage from lung cancer.  

Keasha, a healthy non-smoker, had been diagnosed a year before her death and it seemingly came out of nowhere.  Chris recently shared what the couple’s last year together was like and how Keasha would have wanted to be remembered.

ESSENCE.COM: Since your wife’s passing, you’ve shown such strength and shared so much of her life with the world. Why did you choose to share her story in this way?
CHRIS DRAFT: We put the pictures up [online] so people could really see the life in her, not just how she passed away. We want people to see that her faith allowed her to live before her diagnosis, and to continue to live with it, and find the joy in each day. Even when you get bad news, you have to find the joy in life, which is definitely not easy. Most of the pictures in the montage people have seen are from the past year. She was still enjoying her friends, and still enjoying her family. Yes, it was a little different with cancer being there, but at the same time, you find a way to enjoy it. That’s where you’re at, you know?

ESSENCE: You both stayed positive throughout her battle. How were you able to do that, after learning of her diagnosis?
DRAFT: It was never, "Oh, I’m just going to smile through it." Keasha was like, “I’m going to fight. We’re going to do what we have to do to go after this.” Stage 4 lung cancer is not a good diagnosis. I mean, the numbers are horrible, and to get that news without even having a sign beforehand, makes it that much tougher. She knew she had great friends, and great family, and a great support system, and she said, “Okay, so what do I have to do to fight? We’re going to fight it each and every day.” Getting the full diagnosis, and knowing exactly what we were fighting, was a very hard process. She did such a great job of really looking at it like, "Hey, I have to do this in order to have a chance to be better." She stuck with that and continued to smile, even after she went to appointment after appointment.

ESSENCE: Was your wedding day everything you dreamed it would be? You both looked so happy in your video.
DRAFT: I wanted her to just be able to really enjoy it. That was my only focus. She was able to get up. She was able to walk. She was able to dance. Dancing was just her. Her 88-year-old grandmother got up at our wedding and she started dancing, and she got Keasha back up and she started dancing too. The weather was perfect. It was 70 degrees on Thanksgiving weekend – wow. It seemed like everything just worked itself out for her. It was so beautiful. Her friends and family were all able to be there. It was a good day -- a good weekend.

ESSENCE: If you could send out a message to Keasha this Valentine’s Day, what would you want her to know?
DRAFT: [Long pause.] Keasha, I‘ll always love you. We’re gonna keep fighting. We’re gonna keep fighting! We’re gonna keep inspiring people and help to change people’s lives, I promise.

ESSENCE: How would she want you to live your life and honor her legacy?
DRAFT: She wanted to be an inspiration to other people. She really wanted to try to make sure that people saw her for who she was and to see a woman with a beautiful spirit. I have to finish making sure everything is in order as I move forward. She would want me to be happy, to smile, and to move forward and stay close with her family and friends. That’s what I’m doing.

ESSENCE: What's next for Team Draft?
DRAFT: Right now, with Team Draft our goal is to change the face of lung cancer. We want people to see that anybody can get lung cancer, and the cure for it is just as critical as breast cancer, or any cancer. We’ve got to find a way to identify it earlier. She was this strong, healthy woman, who was all of a sudden short of breath. Had she caught it during stage 3, instead of 4, it could have really increased her chances of survival. We’re going to celebrate her life and the type of person she was and we want others to grab hold of her spirit and make a difference. There’s no clear answer in terms of what can be done to identify it early enough. Keasha didn’t smoke, she was a dancer, she was fit, and she was healthy. That’s why people need to see faces like hers and continue to be inspired. We want to build an excitement about making a difference. I want to put a picture of Keasha right in front of researchers' faces, so when the doctors and scientists are doing their research, they see her right there smiling, and it can hopefully give them that little extra push. If we could push things ahead, and give someone else another week, it makes a huge difference. Team Draft was launched at our wedding. She wanted to fight. She wanted to stand up. Continuing this allows her to do that.

 

So touching.  Read more over at ESSENCE.

 

 

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Comments

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Nicki's picture

he only married her cause he

he only married her cause he knew she was gonna die...why didnt he marry her before she died?? obviously she wasnt worthy
Anonymous's picture

I WOULD ALSO LOVE TO KNOW WHY

I WOULD ALSO LOVE TO KNOW WHY IT SOOOOOO MANY YEARS TO MARRY HER IF THEIR LOVE WAS SOOOOOOO STRONG,, something aint right chall
Anonymous's picture

So ignorant!

So ignorant!
Anonymous's picture

Why does that even matter?!

Why does that even matter?! SMH MISERY LOVES COMPANY!
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Anonymous's picture

Gone too soon! Bless both of

Gone too soon! Bless both of them!
BlackVesper's picture

They are involved of what

They are involved of what love really is, without any hesitation. I like their love story, at least they are trying to comfort each other. PMP Baltimore Maryland
Cathlene's picture

AT LEAST SHE HAD COMFORT

AT LEAST SHE HAD COMFORT KNOWING THAT THIS MAN LOVED HER TILL THE END....WHICH WHAT MORE THAN THE MAJORITY HERE CAN SAY,,,
shannon 's picture

Beautiful love story and it's

Beautiful love story and it's sad that she passed away so soon. Why so many haters posting ignorant comments?
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Anonymous's picture

How long were they together

How long were they together and he finally decided to marry her on her death bed! Nigga Please! I see a white wife on the horizon!
RHI RHI's picture

You are dumb and ignorant as

You are dumb and ignorant as hell. Who knows maybe neither of them were ready to wed. I had a friend who's boyfriend asked her to marry several times and she always said no. She became ill and he asked her several more times. She got better and told me if he asked again, she would marry. I never got the chance to tell him what she said. She got sick again and passed away. They were together for 11 years. Some people think they know everything and don't know shit. Some folks don't want to marry. It doesn't mean that they don't have a full and loving relatiionship.
Anonymous's picture

WOW! Spoken like a true

WOW! Spoken like a true bitter heffa, who was left for a White woman. Get over it already, and quit trying to sprinkle your hate on a TRUE LOVE STORY! It doesn't matter WHEN he married her, all that matters is he did, he loved her, she loved him, and she left this earth as his wife, knowing she was loved beyond belief. I'm sorry you're so miserable.
Gemma's picture

kick rocks, basic bish.

kick rocks, basic bish.
tmoney's picture

Wow such negativity. He

Wow such negativity. He obviously loved her and made her happy so back it down.
Holly's picture

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millionaireloving.com's picture

heart wrenching...i hate

heart wrenching...i hate cancer!!!!!! it is such a devastating disease
Anonymous's picture

its amazing and sad how some

its amazing and sad how some people can find negativity in anything. This is trully a sad and heartfilled story and if you can't see that....go play in traffic!
Anonymous's picture

its amazing and sad how some

its amazing and sad how some people can find negativity in anything. This is trully a sad and heartfilled story and if you can't see that....go play in traffic!
Anonymous's picture

its amazing and sad how some

its amazing and sad how some people can find negativity in anything. This is trully a sad and heartfilled story and if you can't see that....go play in traffic!
Anonymous's picture

its amazing and sad how some

its amazing and sad how some people can find negativity in anything. This is trully a sad and heartfilled story and if you can't see that....go play in traffic!
Anonymous's picture

its amazing and sad how some

its amazing and sad how some people can find negativity in anything. This is trully a sad and heartfilled story and if you can't see that....go play in traffic!
Anonymous's picture

its amazing and sad how some

its amazing and sad how some people can find negativity in anything. This is trully a sad and heartfilled story and if you can't see that....go play in traffic!
Anonymous's picture

If you don't kno you can't

If you don't kno you can't get life insurance If you've been diagnosed with cancer so for all of you saying he did it for a check are sadly mistaken
Anonymous's picture

If you don't kno you can't

If you don't kno you can't get life insurance If you've been diagnosed with cancer so for all of you saying he did it for a check are sadly mistaken
Anonymous's picture

Till death due us part and he

Till death due us part and he meant it.
WhiteLatina's picture

Green fruits and veggies help

Green fruits and veggies help prevent cancer...pass it on....
The Love within....'s picture

It's ironic that I have a

It's ironic that I have a friend who moved from NY to Atlanta (same area as Keasha) who received a Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis(never smoked either) and died at 37 years old leaving 2 kids behind. This thing is way more common than I thought!!! We definitely need way more research. I'm proud of Chris and all that he is doing.
DAKA's picture

Cancer has been winning for

Cancer has been winning for far too long. With all the money we have poured into it I'm shocked we haven't discovered a real cure as of yet. - - - I really love this story although it's sad hopefully it can have a truly happy ending by bringing the awareness to the forefront.
ThatGirl00716's picture

Canver industry is a billion

Canver industry is a billion dollat industry. The sad thing is, they kno that ppl will give their last 2have just another day. I believe they either have a cure or are close. Its been around long enough
Anonymous's picture

Canver industry is a billion

Canver industry is a billion dollat industry. The sad thing is, they kno that ppl will give their last 2have just another day. I believe they either have a cure or are close. Its been around long enough
Anonymous's picture

Canver industry is a billion

Canver industry is a billion dollat industry. The sad thing is, they kno that ppl will give their last 2have just another day. I believe they either have a cure or are close. Its been around long enough
Anonymous's picture

but lets not wait to somebody

but lets not wait to somebody is on their death bed to do whats right. He had her here many years before to give her that title as wife.. i'm so sure he had life insurance on her and he receive a fat check afterwards.. If you say you love somebody unconditionally lets make it happen honey!
Ms. Daniels's picture

Canver industry is a billion

Canver industry is a billion dollat industry. The sad thing is, they kno that ppl will give their last 2have just another day. I believe they either have a cure or are close. Its been around long enough
Anonymous's picture

Canver industry is a billion

Canver industry is a billion dollat industry. The sad thing is, they kno that ppl will give their last 2have just another day. I believe they either have a cure or are close. Its been around long enough
Anonymous's picture

Canver industry is a billion

Canver industry is a billion dollat industry. The sad thing is, they kno that ppl will give their last 2have just another day. I believe they either have a cure or are close. Its been around long enough
Anonymous's picture

You are a sad little person.

You are a sad little person. A sad sad lizard.
Itty Bitty Pig(let)'s picture

What a disgusting comment!

What a disgusting comment! Shame on you! Smh
Anonymous's picture

I kind of felt he really

I kind of felt he really could have married her much sooner. Black men are so afraid of commitment that they life have it's way before they can even put a ring on it. Why wait until her last days to marry her. If he loved her and was willing to stick by her he should have marrried her a long time before. They dated since 2006. Men stop being scared it. I'm sure she would have enjoyed being Mrs. Draft for a couple years instead of a few weeks.
Blakbarbie's picture

you are the devil!

you are the devil!
blanket is a mexican's picture

so loving

so loving
Ms. Daniels's picture

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Freshfab's picture

A big hug, you're great...

A big hug, you're great...
Anonymous's picture

What a gift for both of them

What a gift for both of them to know this kind of deep, abiding love!
SweetDivaT's picture

Nothing is stronger than Love

Nothing is stronger than Love and the Power of God. God Bless him and God rest her soul
Nicole's picture

This is "Love" people,

This is "Love" people, anything else is just BS
wtfever's picture

do not let'em fool ya, if ya

do not let'em fool ya, if ya man don't LOVE ya like this.....I know it hurts...but he does not really LOVE YOU. *the truth hurts...and only hit dogs...bark.Sorry sista's-TRUTH!!!
Anonymous's picture

Mr. Draft is such a kind,

Mr. Draft is such a kind, intelligent and loving man. Keasha was a strong, brave and beautiful woman with a great spirit. Im sad that she passed away so soon after their marriage. Great interview.
Ethel Rabinowitz ™'s picture

Its going to be a hard

Its going to be a hard Valentine`s day for him. I hope he gets comfort from his family.
DarkEmpress's picture

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