The family of a Leeds Rhinos academy star-turned-cancer fundraiser has described him as a “true inspiration” after he passed away at the age of just 19.
James Brook, from Colton, was diagnosed with a rare facial tumour in 2011 and underwent specialist treatment over 10 weeks in Jacksonville, Florida.
He was twice given the all-clear by doctors but the disease returned for a third time and he passed away on Sunday.
The former Temple Moor High School and Leeds City College student backed a campaign to fund a £40,000 teenage chill-out space for young patients undergoing cancer treatment at Bexley Wing in Leeds St James’s Hospital last year.
He initially joined Leeds Rhinos from Oulton Raiders and was a teammate of current first team players Ash Handley, Elliot Minchella and Robbie Ward.
To mark his passing the club will stage a minute silence before the game against Castleford Tigers at Headingley Carnegie Stadium tomorrow.
In a statement, his family said: “James was an amazing person and a true inspiration to all who knew him, He will be forever in our hearts and memories. James always thought he was ‘special’ so he would be proud of all the attention, especially the minute silence.”
Tributes to the much-loved teenager from Rhinos teammates and coaches Steve Fox, Keith Senior and Barrie McDermott will also be printed in the club’s Blue & Amber match programme tomorrow.
In 2012 the club, the Rugby League Benevolent Fund, his school and Oulton Raiders joined forces to raise the funds for his therapy in the USA.
A spokesman for Leeds Rhinos said: “We would like to send our deepest condolences to James’ family and many, many friends who supported him so much during his battle with cancer.”