David Beckham brightened the mood for children battling cancer when he visited Nicklaus Children's Hospital Wednesday to play video games and hallway soccer with the kids.
"Taking their minds off the situation, even if it's just for a few minutes, is important," said Beckham, who in January was awarded a Major League Soccer team based in Miami. "It's important to see them smile and get excited."
His first stop at the hospital was the game room, where he played a soccer video game with various patients ranging from ages 5 to 20.
"I lost in the FIFA game — I should be good," he joked. "I end up pressing every button on the controller; I find it impossible to kick the ball."
He also stopped to draw with Stefania Tarulla as the 5-year-old played with a coloring book. Later, the two played some soccer in the hallway outside her room.
Beckham also visited several patients in their rooms, including 16-year-old Patrick Battle.
The two talked about soccer and a new stadium for the team, Patrick said.
"It was really cool to meet him, because we watch a lot of soccer," Patrick said. "He was a really nice guy as well."
The British soccer star's visit was a total surprise to the patients, Patrick said. They knew somebody was coming, but they weren't sure who it would be.
"I think it's really wonderful that he stopped in to say hi and show support," Patrick said.
Beckham is trying to build support for a massive sports, retail and entertainment complex that would potentially be built at Melreese Country Club, next to Miami International Airport. The Miami City Commission is deciding whether to ask voters to change the law regarding competitive bidding on public property. If the commission decides to put the question before voters, the referendum would be on the November ballot.
"I really care about what's going on in the community, what's going on in Miami,'' Beckham said. He said what's happening "with the stadium is much less important than what's happening in this hospital."