After receiving the cancer diagnosis, Anthony’s mom, Jessie, desperately longed for comfort from her own mother. But sadly, her mom, Maddy DiBlasi, lovingly known as Nonna to her grandchildren, died of brain cancer on December 19, 2005. Nonna’s birthday was August 17, and the number 817 has become very meaningful to the entire family. Ever since she passed away, the number seems to pop up everywhere. It’s funny because it is never a different combination. It’s always 817. When 817 shows up, everyone knows that Nonna is keeping an eye on them just as she always did. Someone just happens to look at the clock and it’s flashing 8:17, prompting family texts reminding one another that Mom is always watching. On a recent visit to Philadelphia, Anthony and his family stopped for a quick break from a walk. They looked up at the building they were standing in front of and sure enough the address was 817. They took a couple pictures and felt her presence walking along with them for the rest of the day. Jessie, and Anthony’s godmother, Aunt Katie, have 817 tattoos as permanent physical reminders that their mom is with them always.
Anthony has been playing football since he was little, and he has always worn number 17 as a tribute to his Nonna. When Luis Garcia asked Anthony to wear his number in the Backyard Brawl game, Anthony felt honored and his entire family was touched by the sentiment. The number first appeared as the Saints of Berks Catholic ran onto the field for the game lead by big brother Nico Myers carrying a huge flag emblazoned with the number 17. Of course, many pictures were taken. Looking at the pictures, it was noticed that the two players on Nico’s left were numbers 8 and 17. Then, the first touchdown of the game was scored by Luis, wearing number 17. When the touchdown was scored, all eyes turned to the scoreboard and the clock said 8:17. Anthony’s family went crazy! They all knew Nonna was there! Ever since the news of Anthony’s prognosis, 817 has shown up everywhere, and everyone knows 100% that Nonna is protecting Anthony, and she isn’t going anywhere!