AFL legend Gary Ablett Jnr has shared a heartwarming tribute to his son Levi on his second birthday after he and his wife Jordan revealed the child suffers from a rare degenerative disease.
The retired Geelong Cats star shared eight pictures of Levi on Instagram on Friday, including fond memories the little family have shared together.
Ablett and Jordan revealed young Levi was diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease in July last year.
Little is known about Levi’s condition, but Ablett said he has daily injections and regular trips to the hospital for tests in his birthday tribute.
Retired Geelong Cats star Gary Ablett Jnr and his son Levi (both left and right). Ablett shared a heartwarming tribute to his son Levi on his second birthday on Friday
Ablett (left) and his wife Jordan (right) discovered young Levi (centre) was diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease in July last year
Ablett said Levi has ‘taught us many lessons that often take a lifetime to learn’ in the first two years of his life
‘Happy birthday my son. How great it is to be your Dad,’ Ablett began the post.
‘You’ve only been in this world for two young years and yet you’ve already taught us many lessons that often take a lifetime to learn.
‘From showing us how joy can be found in the little things to how when challenges arise we can overcome them with bravery and a big smile.’
Ablett said he ‘loves the quality time’ he shares with Levi and went into detail about his son’s treatment for his condition.
‘Whether it’s 2am in the morning while I’m trying to settle you but you just want to play with my face,’ he wrote.
‘Whether it’s holding your hand at the hospital for another test or when you have to have your daily injection.’
Jordan (left) and Ablett (right) with Levi as a baby. Ablett said he ‘loves the quality time’ he shares with Levi and went into detail about his son’s treatment for his condition
Levi is pictured in a hospital cot. Ablett revealed he holds his son’s hand for daily injections and during trips to the hospital for tests in his birthday tribute
Levi sits in a baby seat on a golf kart. On her own Instagram, Jordan wished the ‘sweetest boy’ a happy birthday
The father then concluded the tribute, saying he ‘loves giving you (Levi) your bottle each day while we look into each other’s eyes for a good 10 minutes’.
‘I love seeing you stand in your standing frame and watching you look to Mum and I for encouragement and then seeing that smile when you get it.
‘I love everything about you Levi, you bring me great joy and I’m so proud of you.’
On her own Instagram, Jordan wished the ‘sweetest boy’ a happy birthday.
‘We are immensely proud of you Levi and we love all the things that make you, you,’ she wrote.
‘You are loved, valued and oh, so worth it. Our precious diamond who always shimmers.’
The Geelong Cats star and his wife found out their son was fighting a rare illness in July, 2020.
The pair revealed the news to football fans in a post on Instagram, after the superstar played his 350th career match.
‘Some of you might already know that Jordan is caring for her mum as she battles with cancer,’ the post read.
‘But what many of you don’t know is that our son has been recently diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease.
Jordan also posted a number of pictures of Levi’s birthday. ‘You are loved, valued and oh, so worth it. Our precious diamond who always shimmers,’ she captioned the post
Levi holds a Geelong Cats flag to support his father Ablett. The AFL star played his final game in Geelong’s 31-point loss to Richmond in the 2020 AFL Grand Final
‘We thank you for your love and support and want to emphasise just how grateful we are to be Levi’s parents.
‘He is a true blessing to us and our family and we love him so deeply. Anyone who knows him knows how full of joy he is and how he always has a smile on his face.’
Ablett’s post was followed with an open letter to the 17-month-old uploaded on Jordan’s Instagram account.
‘To our dearest Levi, words will never be enough to express just how full our hearts are of love for you,’ the post read.
‘You’ve only been with us for a short while but you’ve already taught us more than some people learn in a lifetime.’
Ablett played his final game in Geelong’s 31-point loss to Richmond in the 2020 AFL Grand Final.
He injured his left shoulder in the opening minutes of the game but continued to play, with scans later revealing that he had played out the rest of the match with a broken shoulder.
Jordan’s mum Trudy lost her battle with cancer in August 2020.
Gary Ablett Jnr (centre) retired in 2020 following a glittering AFL career with Geelong and Gold Coast