Kirsty Howard was a big fan of soccer star David Beckham, but what she may not have realized was that he became a big fan of hers, too.
Howard, who was born with a rare heart defect, first met her idol when she was just 6 years old, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. On Saturday, at the age of 20, she died.
"Words cannot describe how amazing this young lady has been over the years," Beckham wrote in a caption alongside a photo of them on Instagram. "Kirsty has been defying doctors for many years and whilst doing that, she has been raising millions of pounds for terminally ill children."
Doctors never expected Kirsty to live to see 5 years old, much less 20. And she accomplished so much in those years.
"I met Kirsty in 2002 when she became the nation's and my good luck charm for the game against Greece," he continued. "We also met the queen together in Manchester, so you could say we have spent some amazing moments together over the years and it was an inspiration to meet such a brave young lady with so much drive for helping others."
Beckham told Kirsty's family how much she would be missed, before adding one last line in her honor.
"My heart and love goes to Kirsty for letting me be a small part of your world over the years.. Rest in peace ❤️❤️"