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Content Warning: This story involves child loss.
Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly returned to the team Thursday for the first time since the death of his daughter. Kelly missed the team's Week 15 and Week 16 games to be home with his wife.
Kelly spoke about the decision to return and about the grieving process, saying he's "just taking it one day at a time."
Kelly's wife, Emma, was 19 weeks pregnant when the couple found out their baby's heart stopped beating. Emma and Ryan went to the hospital to deliver the baby. After 24 hours of labor, their daughter was delivered Dec. 17. Ryan called the experience, "The hardest thing that either of us has ever and hopefully will ever have to go through."
Kelly remained away from the Colts for the team's Week 15 win over the New England Patriots, which took place Dec. 18. He stayed at home for the team's Week 16 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Kelly said he wanted to be with his wife on Christmas, the day the team played the Cardinals.
Kelly thanked the doctors at Community North for their care. He also said team general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Frank Reich "couldn't have been more understanding."
Kelly was given the game ball following the team's Week 15 win over the Patriots. He spoke about receiving that news, calling it "a moment I'll never forget."
I asked #Colts center Ryan Kelly about Jim Irsay dedicating the game ball from the Patriots win to him and his wife after losing their infant daughter, Mary Kate.
He said it’s a moment they will never forget: pic.twitter.com/wzX5S3PAGP
— Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) December 30, 2021
Kelly added he feels good about returning to the team now. He said being back doesn't make his daughter's death any easier to process, but that being back will help him heal.