Atlético Madrid midfielder’s comeback from brain cancer and mother’s paralysis
Atletico Madrid’s Spanish midfielder Marc Bartra is helped by a fan after being helped off the field by paramedics in the Bernabeu on May 5, 2016, after suffering an apparent recurrence of the brain cancer that took his mother and father’s lives in 2015. / AFP PHOTO / JOSEP LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Marc Bartra’s father, David, was killed in a car accident on the way to the game in 2010. His brother, Gabriel, died while training with Atletico Madrid in 2014.
This week, the former Atletico Madrid midfielder came in for widespread critical acclaim for his comeback from a terrible illness that threatened him with life-threatening brain cancer. Now he’s helping thousands of patients in Brazil with a new charity, and he’s the most prominent public face of a project that aims to give his family a meaningful impact in his home country.
David and Gabriel Bartra met while studying biology at the University of Sao Paulo in 2005. Now 50, David, a neurosurgeon, had just finished training in Barcelona with Atletico, while Gabriel, a photographer, was a year older and had just returned from his studies in Barcelona, where he had joined the club’s youth academy. A soccer fan, he dreamed of one day becoming a professional in Spain and played on the Barcelona youth team, spending long stretches of the 2005-06 season with Atletico.
“They were part of the history of the club,” says Gabriel, who has a son with his wife, Andrea, and works as an editor in Sao Paulo. “But I had to go to Barcelona to do my studies.”
At the beginning of May, he and his wife, Andrea, traveled to Rio de Janeiro to see David and Gabriel in Brazil, where they’d gone on vacation two months earlier. To the Bartras’ shock, they met up in person not with friends