As a Bears fan I obviously love reading this story, but regardless of who you support this story is pretty special.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The same Bears teammates who line up alongside Charles Tillman on the football field stood by him during his family’s recent medical crisis.

A month ago, Tillman’s infant daughter, Tiana, received a heart transplant that saved her life. Hearing that the entire team held a group prayer at one point for his six-month-old child moved the veteran cornerback to tears.

“I thought it was powerful how the team came together and they rallied behind me,” Tillman said Friday at Children’s Memorial Hospital. “My wife and I cried when we heard that.

“I’ve got the best teammates in the whole NFL. I don’t ever want to leave. I don’t ever want to get traded. I don’t ever want to get cut. I really do have the best teammates in the world. I love them and I thank them for what they’ve done and the support they’ve given me.”

Tillman also praised his coaches and the rest of the Bears organization, including Virginia McCaskey and Ted Phillips. Coach Lovie Smith went to the hospital the first night Tiana was there in May, and several of Tillman’s teammates visited the family throughout the ordeal.

“It was hard to get my mind off of what my daughter was going through,” Tillman said. “But when they came up here, we would laugh and crack a couple jokes. For that hour or two, I was a normal dude. My mind was off of my daughter and I was ‘Peanut’ again. I really thank them for being that support group for me. It was just a blessing and an honor.”

Tillman was excused from several training camp practices, but somehow the sixth-year pro played in all four of the Bears’ preseason games.

“A lot of people have wondered how I was able to balance football and balance this,” he said. “I live by three rules. It goes God, family, football, and that’s how I try to [live] my life. Obviously this comes first. So when I was here [at the hospital], I was here. And then when I wasn’t here and I had to be at training camp, it’s just that gift of energy that I think that God gives you.

“I tried to not let this overcome me because I know I had a job to do and the season was coming up. I’m not going to lie—it was hard. Some days I would just sit in my room [and think], ‘What am I doing here?’ I’d feel guilty for being at work and not being with my kid. I had those days. Did I want to just quit and give up and be here all the time and just be with her? Oh, definitely, because this is my daughter and I’ve only had her three months.”

The way Tillman has handled Tiana’s ordeal has impressed Smith.

“You think you know players,” said the Bears coach. “Charles Tillman plays hard every down and you see how he competes on the football field. You talk about real men and being a father and a husband. I’ve had a chance to see him go through a lot of different things and he stepped up to the plate. If he was having a bad day, you could never tell because he was the same ‘Peanut’ every time he talked to his teammates, and it’s just good to see that. We’re blessed to have a guy like Charles on our football team.”

Smith also got an opportunity to see other Bears players at their best.

“Sometimes when you’re on a team, you don’t get to know some of the people as well as you would like,” Smith said. “But I got a chance to really see some outstanding families. I’m talking about men on our football team and their wives, how they stepped up to the plate to be there and show support. What we tried to do as a Bears organization for Charles is just let him know that we were there for him. Whatever we could do to help, we would do it.

“As far as camp and football, I told Charles if he felt like coming to practice, come to practice. But take care of his family and go from there. We’re just glad that it seems like it’s going to have a happy ending.”