To say Rusty Leep was a Steelers fan wouldn’t do it justice. His love of the team spilled into every part of his life. He even named his son Steeler in honor of the boys in black and gold. It’s easy to imagine the 47-year-old and his 16-year-old son screaming at the TV as their team pulled off an improbable late-season run to make the playoffs on Sunday. But Rusty won’t get to see the Steelers take on the Chiefs. He died last week after an eight-year battle with cancer. So, Steeler will have to cheer for them both when he flies to Arrowhead Stadium for Sunday’s Super Wild Card game.
Pittsburgh running back Benny Snell bought the Ohio teenager, his mom, and his sister tickets to the game after hearing about Rusty’s death, On3 reported. The story of how that happened is as unlikely as the Steelers’ playoff run.
Aiden Porter wanted to do something nice for Steeler after his dad died on Jan. 6. The two play together on their Proctorville, Ohio, high school basketball team. So, he posted Rusty’s story on Instagram and asked people to share it. He hoped the Steelers would see it.
“… You all recently got a chance in the playoffs this year and it would be a shame if you didn’t have your biggest fan and his family at that game! Come on @steelers make it happen! …” he wrote in the post.
The post went viral, and it wasn’t long before Benny Snell saw it and said he’d come through with the tickets. The Proctorville community also rallied to raise the money to buy their roundtrip plane tickets and hotel room for the trip to Kansas City.
“My father would love this opportunity,” Leep told WSAZ. “It’s just amazing. I love my man (Porter), and I love everybody in the community for supporting me.”
The kickoff for Sunday’s AFC Super Wild Card Game between the Steelers and Chiefs is 8:15 p.m.
Steelers Fan ‘Couldn’t Be More Thankful’ For Snell’s Gift
A few days after his dad died, Steeler had a basketball game. He said the support he got from his teammates, coaches, and community was overwhelming. But it’s a reflection of who his dad was — a good man who would have done the same for someone else.
“I appreciate all the love tonight,” he tweeted after the game. “Dad would’ve loved it. My dad taught me so much in a short amount of time. If I grow up to be half of the man my dad was, I will be a successful man. The toughness he instilled within me is unmatched and will lead to success in the future.”
Aiden Porter said he was happy to help out his friend. Though, he’s shocked it worked.
“He has a huge playoff game coming up Sunday,” Porter said, “and he just takes a little time out of his day to do something good, not only for Steeler but for us as a community, just so he can have a good weekend and have a good time. I couldn’t be more thankful.”