ROUND ROCK, Texas — Anthony Harris is a defensive back by trade. The Philadelphia Eagles’ safety delivered in the clutch for an 11-year-old Texas girl last month, stepping in for her late father at a daddy-daughter dance.
Audrey Soape lost her father, Ryan Soape, in March. Her grandfather, who would have been her stand-in date for the dance at The Fellowship Church in Round Rock, died five weeks later, according to The Washington Post.
“We had such a horrible year, and she had been through so much,” Audrey’s mother, Holly Soape, told the newspaper.
Enter Harris. The 30-year-old was Audrey’s favorite player when he played for the Minnesota Vikings and stayed loyal even after he went to the Eagles in 2021.
“I’ve been a fan of him for a long time,” Audrey told KTBC-TV. “And he moved to the Eagles. Of course, I miss him on the Vikings, but I rooted for the Eagles this year since he was playing on the Eagles.”
Several days before Christmas 2021, Holly Soape reached out to Harris on Instagram and asked if he would be willing to attend the church dance with her daughter, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The two had been corresponding periodically on the social media platform since March 2020, according to the Post. Holly Soape is originally from Minnesota, and her family had followed Harris’ career.
“Hey, this is kind of a crazy big ask, and please feel free to say no, but there’s this dance at the end of January,” Soape wrote to Harris. “Is there any way you would consider doing this?”
Harris was receptive to the idea, but his attendance hinged on the Eagles’ playoff performance.
“I told (Holly) that if we didn’t make the playoffs or if we didn’t go far in the playoffs, that I would be open to doing it,” Harris told the Inquirer.
After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Eagles in a wild-card game in January, Harris had a free weekend.
“I was kind of trying to think of how I could make it as normal as possible and make it a smooth and special evening … not knowing each other deeply,” Harris told the newspaper.
Harris then flew to Texas to take Audrey to the dance, KTBC reported.
“I felt super special, and it just kind of felt like special treatment for me,” Audrey told the television station. “And it was kind of enjoyable to just sit back and let all this stuff happen.”
For Holly Soape, the best part was seeing someone show up for her daughter.
“From start to finish he made this night unforgettable for her,” she wrote on Facebook. “From helping get her the dress of her dreams, setting her up with hair and makeup, getting a car service to escort her to and from, and even coming to the house to pick her up and take photos.
“This was truly a night to remember, and I don’t think I’ll ever fully wrap my mind around it.”
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity I have to play football and have an impact on people’s lives and that was ultimately what I was trying to do, to be there for (Audrey),” Harris told the Inquirer.
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