Colts center Ryan Kelly returned to the team this week after spending time with his wife, Emma, following the tragic passing of the Kelly's daughter, Mary Kate. Kelly read a statement on Thursday to begin his press conference, which you can read below:
"For 24 hours I watched and held my wife's hand as she labored with our daughter. We didn't get to later where you get to wrap your baby up and take them home. It wasn't in God's plan for our sweet girl. We had to say goodbye, the hardest thing that either of us has ever and hopefully will ever have to go through.
"But this is about my wife and the rock star that she is. As I sat in the hospital bed and watched tears roll down her face, she held our daughter with love, a love that I've never seen before. The strength that she possesses I know transferred to our daughter who watches over us now. I've never been more proud to be your husband.
"In all this pain we're truly thankful to have people in our lives like we do. With that being said, I would like to give a few thank yous. For starters, our closest friends and family who have been there every step of the way and never, ever wavered in their love and support for us. To the Irsay family, I can't thank you guys enough. To Frank (Reich), Chris (Ballard), David Thornton and teammates and the entire Colts organization who gave us time to start to heal and always made sure we were taken care of.
"To the doctors and nurses at Community North, who made us feel like our daughter was the only baby in the world who mattered, thank you. You'll forever be in our family. Lastly, to the thousands of people we've never met who have shared their stories of loss, you have helped us in ways that you will never know. Hearing your stories and knowing we're not alone has brought us light in all this darkness. Thank you."
Kelly answered a question about how he knew he was ready to return to the Colts this week:
"I knew that Christmas – I just imagined my wife being by herself on Christmas and that was like the hardest thing ever to me. We buried our daughter on Tuesday and I knew there was no way I could be ready. Wednesday was the first day after that that we hadn't had any family in town.
"That's the hardest, just being in your house where you've made so many memories. I just knew there was no way if I went back to work Thursday that I would be ready to go Saturday. Ultimately, like I said in that statement I had, Chris (Ballard) and Frank (Reich) couldn't have been more understanding. I think that they knew in their hearts that I wasn't going to be ready to go on Christmas day to play in that game. I mentally wouldn't be there. So, I just knew selfishly, coming back to work keeps my mind on football and it helps me to heal.
"Certainly, yesterday was probably the hardest day walking back into the office and just seeing people. They don't know what to tell you. Unless you've been in the situation, you don't know what to say. For me, this is healing in itself and selfishly, I feel bad because my wife is at home. She's taking care of the dogs and grieving by herself, but I know she'll get through it too. Certainly, just having the support of the Colts and not having to go out there and be pressured to play Christmas day, I'll forever be thankful.
"It just feels right to be back. I know that being here is where I need to be right now. It doesn't make it any easier. I mean, take it minute-by-minute. That's kind of how it goes. I'm just taking it one day at a time."
Kelly also was asked what receiving the game ball from Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay after the Colts' win over the New England Patriots meant to him.
"That's a moment I'll never forget. We had my brother and sister in law were in town. That was the day after we got back from the hospital. That was a tough day. I mean, our countertops were full of flowers and s–– we never wanted – you never want those thoughts and prayers and the flowers. But obviously it goes to show just how many people care about us.
"I remember sitting there, we watched the game and it was awesome. Somebody sent me that David Andrews, their center, and (Bill) Belichick had mentioned us. At that time, it was the darkest day ever. We never thought there would be light ever again. Just to hear Frank's press conference at the end where he mentioned our family and obviously he texted right after that and sent us the clip of Irsay and the game ball. We've watched that clip of Irsay give us the game ball 100 times.
"You can tell when he's giving that game ball out, there's a switch that flips in your mind, you know, he's got three daughters himself. And to do that means more than we can ever imagine. And the history of what he's had to go through against the Patriots and all the rivals they've had, to have such a big win like that on such a big stage on Saturday night football and to give it to us, we'll never forget it. So I can't thank him enough. I thanked him in there, but certainly a lot more thanks to be given to him for thinking about us and just providing any resources we could've ever imagined. That's just what we're thankful for in all those hard times is how amazing our organization has been.
"We realize that not every organization is like that it truly cares about their players. And so it just meant a lot to us. It meant everything.