NRL star’s baby joy amid tragedy
One of the toughest years of Payne Haas' life is ending on a bright note after he and girlfriend Leilani Mohenoa announced they're expecting a baby girl.
Mohenoa posted a photograph of an ultrasound on Instagram on Thursday night with the caption: "We lost an angel but he sent us another that same month. Baby girl due in May."
"Can't wait to meet our baby girl," added Haas, on his page.
Haas' older brother Chace, who became a quadriplegic when he was involved in a car crash at just five-months-old, died in mid-August aged 22.
Front-rower Haas, who also suffered through the dual disappointments of a bottom-placed finish with the Brisbane Broncos and NSW's upset Origin defeat, was heartbroken by a big brother who was his best friend and hero.
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"I love you forever my best friend, my role model but most importantly my big brother. Going to miss our banter and seeing your big smile whenever I come home to see you but I know you're going to be watching over all of us every step of the way," he wrote in August.
"Thanks for being there for me when no one else was, I'm going to carry your name with me everywhere I go I did this for you before this happened and I'm going to keep doing this for you.
"Staunchest person I've ever met I'm missing you already honestly, Ride or Die my Hitta I'll see you soon."
Chace's life, and that of the Haas family, was changed forever in 1999 when their car lost control while travelling between Canberra and Goulburn, crashing into a tree.
The second of 10 children, Chace suffered such severe whiplash he snapped his neck and would never walk.
Payne was born eight months after the accident and the pair have shared a special bond ever since.
"I wish it was me," Payne told NRL.com in an interview last year.
"If I could go back and put myself in the situation he was in, I'd take that burden for him. I would love to see him live the life I am. I'd sit in that chair for the rest of my life to see him walk.
"Sometimes I cry in my room. I pray sometimes that things were never like that. I wish he was running around like us.
"Dad used to show us photos of how Chace was on life support. I've got life pretty easy. My brother knows real struggle."
Haas admitted he was desperate to spend more time with his family and girlfriend after winning back-to-back player of the year awards with the Broncos.
But his long season continued with a frustrating Origin campaign, which included a Game Two fight with Queensland's Tino Fa'asuamaleuai.
Originally published as NRL star's baby joy amid tragedy