Toledo football player to forgo last year of eligibility to be with sick fiancee

A football player at the University of Toledo who has been playing the sport since he was a kid told his coach that he will forgo his last eligible season so he could be at his fiancee’s side while she undergoes treatment for leukemia, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Ben Pike, 22, a 6 foot, 3-inch 260-pound defensive lineman who is coming off his best season and was likely to start next year, learned in January that leukemia returned to his fiancée Ashlee Barrett, the report said.

"I know in some people's terms, he's giving up things," Becky Pike, Ben's mother, told the paper. "But he's really not giving up. He's not giving up anything. He's really fighting for life. And he's just turned his forces to he's going so win a battle for life instead of winning on the football field."

The attraction between the two appeared to be immediate. They met during a bible study class. Barrett, herself a basketball player at Toledo, was taken by Pike’s confidence when he would discuss various topics in class, the report said. Pike couldn’t help but notice the pretty blonde’s energy.

They began dating and fell in love. Pike took Barrett to Washington, D.C., in December 2011 and proposed, the paper reported. He somehow managed to talk White House security guards into giving them clearance so he could pop the question on the main driveway leading to the White House. They set the date for the summer of 2013.

But like most things in real life, things never completely played out like a Hollywood movie. Barrett, who had been having trouble with her lower back, learned that she had leukemia last April and would require a 40-day stay in a St. Louis-area hospital, the report said.

She was told the cancer was in remission. But in January, doctors determined the cancer had returned. That’s when Pike made his decision.

"We talked last weekend and we both decided the best thing I could do for both of us is finish up and graduate this spring," Pike told The News-Herald at the time. "So that's what I'm going to do, finish school and balance time to see her and support her while she's going through this."

The Plain Dealer said Barrett was not available for an interview due to weakness as she undergoes treatment, but Pike has been visiting her every weekend.

"He just loves unconditionally," Becky Pike told the paper. "I think anyone who knows them, that would be their definition; they really just do exude from them the love of God and their love for each other. It's very humbling as a parent to watch your child display things you think you've taught."

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