Taylor Brandt is a 6 year old Oklahoma City girl who has already overcome more than most of us face in a lifetime.
Diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 3, Taylor's small body is misleading if you were to judge the size of the fight in it, say family and friends of the first grader at Bethany Elementary School.
Almost four years later, Taylor doesn't think about her illness much anymore. She's cute and positive and enjoys doing things other little girls her age do. She likes riding her bike, playing with her squinkies, her American Girl dolls and dance.
At a recent dance recital Taylor had a special friend show up: former Oklahoma State defensive end Cooper Bassett.
Over the past two years, the two have formed a special bond that has seen her through the toughest times of her treatments. The unlikely pair first met at the OSU chapter of Coaches vs. Cancer's annual Swoosh Night back in 2011. Taylor's family and friends say she was a little intimidated by the big, yet unassuming football player. Cooper's way with kids eventually drew the little girl out of her shell, said Taylor's mother, Elicia.
"Taylor had no interest in shooting baskets, she was very timid," Elicia said. "Cooper got her to get out there, he shot baskets, and got her some pom poms which she enjoyed."
Now the two are inseparable.
They text, talk on the phone, and sometimes he drops by the house on his way home to Tuttle from Stillwater. At Taylor's No More Chemo party earlier this year, Cooper even got on the moon walk with Taylor and her friends. Something the little girls all got a kick out of.
During the season, Taylor and her family formed Cooper's biggest fan club. They were either at Boone Pickens Stadium or watching the games on TV. Elicia says Taylor always knew when her buddy was on the field. She showed her support by wearing her special jersey, bow and button in his support.
Elicia explains why Cooper has meant so much to her daughter.
"It gave her something to look forward to," she said. "Around the fall of 2011 there were several times that she was in the hospital just for fever or a random infection and she hated being there. I mean absolutely hated it. I remember one time in particular she was just really not happy to be there but we had her jersey, and her button, and her bow and we were watching the game and he had an interception in that game and he texted afterwards. I guess they were waiting for their flight back. And he texted to check on her and to see how she was doing and he told me to tell her that (interception) was for her."
Cooper says it's a two-way street. While he enjoys knowing he's played an important role in her life, she's given him just as much in return.
"The way she makes me feel when she lights up when she sees me," Bassett said. "You know, you can't put a price on it and it's worth every second I get to be around her."
The two have nicknames for each other. To her, she's "Cooper's Taylor," and to him, he's "Taylor's Cooper."
While their relationship started during a trying time, it's one that has lasted and continues to grow every day.