Lowery and Premier League star Defoe have been “best friends” since the six-year-old walked out as a mascot with his hero before a Sunderland game.
The pair have struck up a strong bond with Defoe regularly going to visit Bradley – who has bravely fought rare childhood cancer neuroblastoma.
But in the last week, Bradley’s heartbroken family revealed his health had gone down hill and he was “close to being with angels”.
Defoe made a tear jerking last visit to Bradley last week for final hugs – and the newly signed Cherries star teared up as he was asked about his brave pal.
“It has been difficult,” Defoe said.
“It has been hard because I’ve been keeping this in for so long, trying to be strong for my family and his family.
“I don’t really know how to put into words how I feel. It has been a special time having that relationship with Brad.
“I speak to the family every day, I was with them a few days ago and it was tough to see him suffer like that.
“I felt I was prepared for it after what I went through with my dad but it was so tough to see a kid of that age who has been going through this for so long and got to the stage where he is obviously struggling.
“I can say it is only a matter of days but he will always be in my heart for the rest of my life.
“We are there for the family even going forward and it puts stuff into perspective.
“There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wake up and check my phone or think about little Bradley because his love is genuine – I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me.”
Defoe also revealed the first time he met Bradley, and the effect he had on him straight away.
“From the first moment I met him I couldn’t believe he was the young kid that was ill, he just ran over to me,” Defoe explained.
“From that moment on it has been an instant connection.
“I knew he was going to be a mascot but I hadn’t seen a picture of him and he just ran over to me and I thought this must be little Brads.
“His energy in the changing room and bossing the other kids around I though he had a great character.