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Randy Moss attends cancer survivor's graduation

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  • By Manouk Akopyan NFL.com
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Randy Moss spent the first seven seasons of his Canton-bound career as a generational wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

The all-time Viking great also hasn't forgotten about all of the friendships he forged along the way.

One special relationship was with Kassi Spier, a girl Moss met as a rookie in 1998 at a training camp autograph session. The toddler yelled "Randy" and instantly had his heart. She was 2 years old at the time.

The two have remained close ever since. Spier has overcome such hardships as battling through her 2000 diagnosis of leukemia, losing her father to a car accident in 2004 and being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2013.

Moss made a promise long ago to attend Spier's high school graduation, and on Friday night, he did just that by handing Spier her diploma during the Pelican Rapids High School's graduation ceremony in Minnesota.

The gesture, however, shouldn't come as a surprise. Moss' relationship with Spier is special and personal, and one that the wide receiver never liked to talk about even though he had a picture of the girl in his locker, a 2004 ESPN The Magazine story describes. A 2003 Associated Press story notes Spier followed Moss to lunch nearly every day during training camp that summer, with "her tiny hand tucked inside his."

"I know how she feels about me, and she knows how I feel about her," Moss said in the ESPN story more than a decade ago. "Our relationship is not important to anybody but us."

"Randy loves that girl to death," Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper said at the time, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "They have that connection, and I think it's beautiful."

Mike Tice, Moss' head coach from 2002 to 2004, said: "Randy wants everyone to think he's a tough guy, but his relationship with this little girl is really something. It's typical of Randy. He's great with kids. He doesn't trust authority. And he doesn't trust adults because he thinks they all want something from him. And you know what? He's not far off."

Tice's assessment holds true in hindsight.

On Saturday, Moss signed autographs to raise more than $20,000 for former teammate Tyrone Carter's football camp. The funds would be enough to send about 84 kids to Carter's camp on scholarship. 

"I remember her," Carter said of Spier, per The Star Tribune. "She always came to training camp. Randy just loved those kids. That's what people don't understand about him."

In addition to his TV duties as a football analyst, Moss currently is a coach at Victory Christian Center School, a small private school in Charlotte that his son, Thaddeus, now attends.

For the transcendent player who dealt with his fair share of off-field issues, Moss' gesture Friday night can be best described in three words: Straight class, homey.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.

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