Former Atlanta Falcon Chris Draft is used to hard knocks. But he received the biggest blow of his life recently when he lost his beautiful wife 38-year-old LaKeasha Rutledge Draft after a valiant fight with lung cancer.
Keasha was a fitness nut, just like her husband. She never smoked and led a very healthy lifestyle. The Drafts were married exactly one month. She was so weak at the wedding that she had to go down the aisle in a wheelchair, but she was able to take the last few steps to the alter before being seated with Chris to take their vows.
A video of their wedding went viral and received more than 12,000 views in just one day (http://t.co/n8hWTCQe). The touching video shows how much they loved each other and the news of Keasha’s death prompted an outpouring of support from around the world.
Keasha was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer more than a year ago. Chris remained by her side as she sought treatment at various locations. While he was dedicated to her, he also continued his work as an outstanding advocate for children in the community through his foundation, the Chris Draft Family Foundation. (www.chrisdraftfamilyfoundation.org)
He traveled all over the country empowering families to live healthy lifestyles. The seven initiatives of the foundation promote character, fitness, literacy, community improvement, military appreciation and dealing with asthma. What most people don’t know is that Chris has severe asthma and has spoken several times about how he thought he was going to die when he was alone and suffered asthma attacks. In fact, he was not able to attend the first part of his wife’s funeral because he was having an asthma episode.
Chris is an economics major out of Stanford who was drafted in the sixth round by the Chicago Bears and played 12 years in the NFL. The California native decided to make Atlanta his home. He played for the Falcons from 2000-2004 and also played for San Francisco, St. Louis, Buffalo, Washington and Carolina. It was in Charlotte where he met his wife who was a cheerleader. She was also an engineering graduate from Clemson.
Chris is a popular speaker who also made headlines when he helped pull a man out of a burning car in Duluth, GA in 2002. Many people refer to him as one of the “good guys” of the NFL.
On his website, Chris asks that any donations in memory of Keasha be made to the foundation so they can continue the work that both of them worked for so passionately.
Sidmel Estes was the first woman president of the National Association of Black Journalists (1991-1993). She is a 35-year veteran journalist who was an executive producer at WAGA-TV for 27 years. She is the CEO and owner of BreakThrough Inc. a media consulting company. She is a native Atlantan who grew up on the Westside and graduated from Northside High School (now North Atlanta).