Managers Dean Saunders and Tony Mowbray led the tributes to Doncaster striker Billy Sharp after an emotional night at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Third-placed Middlesbrough ran out 3-1 winners after Sharp had given Rovers the lead with a spectacular volley, although it was remarkable the home captain had taken to the pitch in the first place.
Earlier in the evening Doncaster announced Sharp's two-day-old son Louie Jacob had tragically died on Saturday. The crowd commemorated the infant's life with a minute's applause before kick-off and the former Sheffield United man sent them into raptures with his 14th-minute opener.
However, Barry Robson's double either side of Marvin Emnes' effort in first-half stoppage time, courtesy of a dreadful error from Rovers goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, gave Middlesbrough victory and sent their opponents to the foot of the npower Championship table.
"I knew what was going on all week and I also know the finer details of what happened, which is worse than you think," said Doncaster boss Saunders of Sharp's situation. "He rung me last night (Monday) and asked me if he could play - he wanted to play. He wanted to play to score a goal for his son and his family and he was ready to go. When he said that to me I couldn't really refuse."
Middlesbrough counterpart Mowbray added: "Taking the professionalism out of it, I'm delighted for the boy that he's scored such a fantastic goal on such an occasion for him. It's amazing to think for anyone who's had children the emotional drain that must have been with him - I couldn't put it into words. For him to score a wonder-goal, your headlines should be there really - a goal from heaven."