Cole Hayden, 7-year-old boy who inspired KU’s football team, dies following battle with cancer

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — A 7-year-old University of Kansas football fan who was cheered on by the team as he battled cancer has died.

Dengel & Son Mortuary says Cole Hayden died Saturday. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Hayden had a rare form of cancer called undifferentiated sarcoma.

His mother, Shanda Hayden, is an academic and career counselor in the athletic department. He had grown up around football players, who had formed a bond with him even before his diagnosis.

To support him, several members of the team shaved their heads. And almost all of the Kansas football players and coaches wore wristbands emblazoned with #TeamCole during the team’s August training camp.

Coach David Beaty said in a tweet that the “talented, smart, funny, kindhearted” child had “gotten his angel wings.”