Spring 2021 Magazine

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel 'couldn't feel more blessed' to celebrate World Series with healthy daughter

The World Series win for the Boston Red Sox on Sunday capped another stellar year for closer Craig Kimbrel. It’s his first championship after nine years in the majors, he appeared in his seventh All-Star game, his 42 saves ranked third in MLB this season, and his six postseason saves led all pitchers.

That all came in his first year as a father. On Saturday, Craig and his wife, Ashley, will celebrate the first birthday for their daughter, Lydia Joy. While every birthday is a joyful milestone for any parent, Lydia’s takes on a little more meaning.

She was born with a heart defect. Numerous surgeries were required at Boston Children’s Hospital. Spending time at the hospital with his young family kept Kimbrel away from offseason training and a bit of spring training.

But Lydia helps her daddy keep life in perspective.

“Pressure from a ballgame is nothing like pressure of a life and seeing someone go through that especially if it’s your daughter,” Kimbrel told Mass Live after the clinching game. “Our perspective changes. What’s important changes. Providing her with everything she needs and being in a city where we could do it, I couldn’t feel more blessed or be in a better place.”

Kimbrel celebrated on the field with Lydia after his team clinched the organization’s ninth World Series.

“A lot of people were praying for her and thinking of her throughout the entire year. She makes me take every day one day at a time. Nothing’s for granted,” Kimbrel said. “I know how special life is and moments like this are and how important it is to share it with everyone around you.”

Lydia has undergone two surgeries thus far, and is expected to need another one in two or three years. As always, the Kimbrels will rely on their faith in God.

“We’re very strong in our faith. We believe that everything in life happens for a reason, even if we don’t understand it at the time,” Kimbrel told ESPN prior to the season.

“God gave me this ability to change other people’s lives, to change my own family’s life,” he told the media during spring training. “It’s tough but God has a plan for us and I got to trust Him and things are going good and I can be very grateful for that.”

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