A hard-fought Texas high school football game took a backseat to the realities of life when opponents Gage Smith and Ty Jordan came together for an emotional prayer after the final whistle last week.
Smith asked Jordan if the two friends could say a prayer together for Jordan's mother, Tiffany Jordan, 42, who has stage 4 lung and bone cancer.
"It was meant for just me and him to have a moment and to pray over his family and for his mom,'' Smith told TODAY. "I just wanted to let him know there are other people thinking about him and his family, and let him know he has somebody to turn to."
The two got down on one knee and offered a prayer for Jordan's mom in a solemn moment captured in photos by the wife of Smith's head coach at Sherman High School.
The photos were passed along to Jordan's aunt, Takka Jordan, who posted them on Facebook, where they received more than 100,000 likes before she took the post down from public view on Tuesday night.
The pictures also were sent to Jordan's mother.
"I was speechless,'' Tiffany Jordan told TODAY. "It made me cry. (Smith) didn't have to do that. The fact that he took the time to pray with Ty for me, that took my breath away."
Smith's Sherman team won the regular-season game 56-27 over Jordan and his West Mesquite High School squad. It was a crucial game for Sherman's state playoff aspirations, but that was secondary to Smith's concern for Jordan.
"I would've done that whether we would've won or lost,'' Smith said. "During the game we're enemies and we're gonna play and try to win the game, but you still have that respect for the other opponent. I wanted to do that for him."
"That special moment with Gage, I see that kind of stuff weekly from him," Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez told TODAY. "I see it all the time. I’m glad that other people are having the opportunity to see it, too.”
Jordan is a star running back who is committed to the University of Texas, while Smith is a senior safety and team captain. The two became friends when they played on the same select 7-on-7 flag football team in the spring and summer the past two years.
Smith found out in a group chat online that Jordan's mother had cancer.
"As soon as I saw that, I let him know I was thinking about him,'' Smith said. "Hope in a situation like this is a big thing."
"As a parent we have many moments in our children lives that we are so very proud,'' Smith's mother, Patricia Smith, wrote on Facebook. "When they learn how to walk, talk and bring home great grades. None will compare to the heart my son has for our Lord and his genuine care for others. The things Gage Smith does when we are not looking is what shows whom you are."
The gesture came at a particularly emotional time for Jordan and his family.
Tiffany Jordan said she lost her job on Nov. 1 because of her repeated hospital stays while being treated for non-small cell carcinoma of her right lung as well as bone cancer. She was first diagnosed with lung cancer on Dec. 28, 2018, followed by a bone cancer diagnosis 12 days later.
Losing her job also meant losing her health insurance. A GoFundMe account has raised more than $7,000 for her, but the mother of two held back tears as she said she now has to now pay out of pocket for an unknown amount of treatments that cost $1,750 each.
"I just found out today that if I can't get Medicaid, I can't get treated,'' Jordan said Tuesday. "I'm trying so hard, but right now I just don't know."
Seeing the moment with Smith and her son was a ray of light in a dark time.
"It made me feel really good,'' she said. "I've been down and depressed, but that has lifted my spirits.
"A prayer, a kind word, a hug, especially when you know somebody is going through something, that's like the best thing you can do for a person."