Colts center Ryan Kelly announces sudden death of his daughter

Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly revealed on Monday why he missed their win over the New England Patriots on Saturday night.

Kelly and his wife, Emma, announced that their daughter, Mary Kate, had died.

"Nothing made me happier than being your Dad,” Kelly wrote. “You gave your mom and I that gift. You were simply a miracle and always will be. I’m sorry you never got to open those sweet eyes and see us or take your first steps but you have angel wings now. You left this world too soon but we know God had a bigger purpose for you.

“Your mom and I find comfort in knowing you’re being loved on by your great grandparents. Thank you for watching over us and your future siblings. I’ll forever wonder who you’d be today. Until we meet again my sweet girl, I love you.”

Emma was about 19 weeks along in her pregnancy, almost to the halfway point, when they learned that Mary Kate’s heart had stopped suddenly on Wednesday. On Friday, Emma had to go through with the delivery.

“I was so angry at first that I had to deliver her, only for it to become the biggest blessing out of this nightmare,” Emma wrote on Instagram, in part. “It gave Ryan and I the opportunity to hold our little saint, Mary Kate, before officially saying goodbye to her. These 19 weeks with her opened our hearts and souls more than we ever imagined possible and I’m forever grateful we had some time, Earth-side, with the little girl who made us mom and dad.”

The Colts drafted Kelly with the No. 18 overall pick out of Alabama in 2016. He’s been their starting center ever since, and signed a four-year extension last year that made him the league’s highest-paid center.

Both Colts coach Frank Reich and Patriots coach Bill Belichick mentioned Kelly after Indianapolis’ 27-17 win on Saturday night, where backup center Danny Pinter filled Kelly’s shoes. It’s unclear when he will return to the field.

“We can all just show him the love and care that he has for this game," Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II said, via the Indianapolis Star. "We can show that same love and care for him off the field ... It just shows that life hits everybody hard at some point along the road. We’re here thinking about Ryan and his family as they go through this tough time.”