Former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson pulled a brave face on one of his first public outings since the announcement of the death of his eldest daughter Maia, 25, on March 15.
The former Super Bowl champion, 48, was photographed with his youngest daughter who he shares with second wife Jennifer Conrad.
An observant father, Johnson seemed to shower his little girl with love and attention while helping her in and out of her pram during an afternoon in Los Angeles.
Heartbroken: Former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson, 48, was spotted spending quality time with his youngest daughter two weeks after the announcement of his oldest daughter Maia’s death
Dressed in shorts, a sweatshirt and flip-flops, the former wide receiver who first played with the New York Jets rocked his little girl’s left arm as he helped create her adorable outfit.
And in a moving and heartfelt moment, when he picked up his daughter for a photo, he said with clear emotion, “You have to keep them close to you.”
But still, the beautiful interaction elicited several big beaming smiles from the grieving father.
Heart Medicine: Johnson was able to show a radiant smile throughout the family period
The public outing comes exactly two weeks after he shared the tragic news of Maia’s death. She was his oldest child from marriage to Shikiri Hightower.
The former couple, who were married from 1998 to 2002, also have a 22-year-old son, Keyshawn Johnson Jr.
“It is with incredible sadness that I have to share the news of the death of my beautiful daughter Maia,” Johnson began in his statement on social media.
“Maia, as my firstborn child, is the joy of my life and that of her mother Shikiri.”
Trafic: Johnson shared the sad news of his eldest daughter’s death on March 15
Light of their lives: The former NFL star said daughter Maia Hightower-Johnson was the joy of his and her mother’s life in a statement on social media
Johnson, who now works for ESPN as an NFL analyst and radio host, added: “She came into our lives just as we both came of age and is a constant cherished presence for both of us. We are heartbroken and devastated by her loss. Shikiri, Maia’s brothers and sisters, our family and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. ‘
He ended by showing appreciation “for all the support and respect for our privacy as we go along.” Thank you all, God bless. ‘
At the final check, Johnson and his family are still awaiting autopsy results to determine an official cause of death.
Heartbreak in the Family: Johnson said he was “heartbroken and devastated” over Maia’s death; she is pictured (right) with her mother and Johnson’s ex-wife Shikiri Hightower
Firstborn: Maia (left) was Johnson’s first child with ex-wife Shikiri Hightower (right), whom he was married to from 1998 and 2002
Johnson’s other child with his first wife, Keyshawn Jr., also took to social media to pay tribute to his sister.
“I lost the only person in my life who is full of blood,” the 22-year-old wrote alongside a series of photos of the siblings.
‘I lost my big sister Maia. Maia was undoubtedly my greatest role model growing up. I didn’t want to be anything but a clone of hers. I always thought she was the coolest person, had the coolest clothes and listened to the best music. I don’t know what to do without you. ‘
In addition to his years as a Jet in New York, Johnson also played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he won his Super Bowl ring, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers before retiring in 2006.
Champion! Johnson is pictured with his late daughter, Maia, when he and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003.