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Ashley Cain honors late daughter on what would have been her 1st birthday

The infant died in April after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia.
/ Source: TODAY

Ashley Cain of MTV’s “The Challenge: War of the Worlds” is paying tribute to his late daughter, Azaylia, who would have turned 1 on Tuesday.

“Happy Heavenly 1st Birthday Azaylia Diamond Cain — you’re not only my daughter, you're my best friend, my guardian Angel, my inspiration and my true hero,” Cain, 30, wrote on Instagram. “You brought love, happiness and hope to not only your family, but an entire world who was locked up and locked down. A true inspiration that showed people they can be strong, brave and fight through anything life throws at them... And do it all with a smile on their face!

“You were a special baby, you are now a special angel and you will always be my special little girl! Until we are reunited again my baby, I love you more than life itself and I miss you so much it hurts.”

Cain also shared a series of photos and videos celebrating Azaylia's life. In one clip, she is seen sitting up by herself as Cain cheers her on in the background.

On Monday night, the former soccer player revealed he was “going to bed with a heavy heart.”

“I could’ve never imagined things would’ve turned out this way and it breaks my heart every single day to be without her,” Cain wrote in a message on his Instagram story. “Azaylia meant everything and more to me and she truthfully not only made my life, but saved my life.”

Cain and his girlfriend, Safiyya Vorajee, welcomed Azaylia in August 2020. In October, he shared the somber news that the infant had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. The disease, also known as AML, is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes a large number of abnormal white cells, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Throughout Azaylia's painful journey, Cain used social media to raise awareness and even to plead for a bone marrow donor to save her life. Finding a match for Azaylia was especially hard since she was of mixed ethnicity.

In April 2021, Cain shared the news that Azaylia had passed away at 8 months old.

“I always dreaded the first time I’d have to plan a funeral,” Cain shared on his Instagram story. “But I never thought it would be my child’s funeral. Nothing could have prepared me for this.”