Larry Fitzgerald and Senator John McCain were good friends for more than a decade, despite their many differences
Cardinals star Larry Fitzgerald stood behind a pulpit on Thursday and told millions today about the many differences between him and Sen. John McCain.
Despite this, the Senator and the NFL wide receiver had enjoyed a close relationship for more than a decade, and they became even closer in McCain's final years.
In an emotional speech delivered at a funeral by the Senator, who died of cancer at age 81 on Saturday, he said McCain had always judged people for their intentions and actions, not because of their appearance or background.
"A lot of people might wonder what a young African-American from Minnesota and a highly decorated Vietnam War hero turned into the senator of the United States might have in common," he joked.
& # 39; I'm black, he was white. I'm young, he was not so young. He lived with physical limitations caused by war, I am a professional athlete. He ran for president, I was left without limits.
& # 39; It was the epitome of hardness, and I do everything possible to avoid contact. I have flowing hair, and hey, he did not.
Fitzgerald shared a photo of the couple on Capitol Hill when McCain died Sunday at age 81, having decided days before to stop treating his cancer.
The wide receiver met with McCain more than a decade ago, and has been a friend ever since. Fitzgerald says that the senator did not take into account the exterior of the people, but the content of their hearts
Fitzgerald, a father of two children aged 34, said he and McCain enjoyed "meaningful friendship," despite their many differences.
The great receiver said that their lasting relationship: "highlights the very rare and very special qualities of Senator McCain that I have just admired deeply."
& # 39;[McCain] He did not judge people based on their skin color, gender, background, political affiliations or bank accounts, "he said.
& # 39; He evaluated them on the merits of their character and the content of their hearts. He judged them for the work they did and for the principles they lived. "
Fitzgerald says that McCain held the differences and embraced humanity & # 39; during his emotional speech
Later, Fitzgerald returned to his unlikely friendship and explained what made it so easy to look beyond their differences to find things they had in common.
"What made Senator McCain so special was that he cared about the essence of my heart more than my origin.
"While some might find our friendship out of the ordinary, it was a perfect example of what made him an iconic figure in American politics and service to his fellows.
"He celebrated the differences, embraced humanity, defended what was true and just, and saw people for what they were.
Yes, ours was an unlikely friendship. But it is something that I will always appreciate. "
Fitzgerald was full of praise for his eloquent and moving tribute to his friend, and some even joke that he should take McCain's place in the Senate.
The speech was widely praised on social networks, with multiple Twitter users even calling the soccer player to run for McCain's place in Congress.
Many attributed to Fitzgerald having spoken eloquently and from the heart, even those who were surprised to see his name on the show.
McCain and Fitzgerald met when the wide receiver had just joined the Cardinals.
Fitzgerald told CBS that when they met, through the team, the senator took a personal interest in him and began to advise him for the rest of his life, despite the player's reluctance.
"I wanted to know how I was, what my plans were after soccer," Fitzgerald said.
"And you know you give me advice on family and leadership, and all of these things that I did not necessarily think I needed, but he saw that I needed him and he was in charge of imparting some of that wisdom to me."
Shortly thereafter, Fitzgerald traveled to Vietnam to better understand what McCain went through during the war.
Both spend considerable time together in later years, and Fitzgerald says he last visited the McCains in February.
Fitzgerald now has two children and a long-term stable relationship with Melissa Blakesley, whom she reportedly already considers his wife.
If his praise is something to follow, McCain's initial advice was well received.