Growing up, I was a short, chubby kid with asthma who could only dream of playing professional football. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was about 9 years old. I would try to play with my friends on the playground, but I couldn’t keep up. I was constantly running out of breath.
At 10 years old, I had my first asthma attack. I’ll never forget it—I was playing on the monkey bars with my friends, and I fell to the ground. I was hospitalized for a week.
An asthma attack feels like your world is about to end. There’s nothing scarier than not knowing when you’re going to get your next breath.
At the time, I was fighting for my life. I was dependent on an inhaler daily. I would blow in a peak flow, and it wouldn’t even move a centimeter. My asthma landed me in the hospital more than once.
All I kept hearing is that I would never be able to play sports. It was hard to deal with as a child, and I struggled because I couldn’t do what my friends were doing.
I knew that asthma was something I would have to overcome. I educated myself and my family, and worked slowly to strengthen my lungs, little by little, to overcome the daily challenges of asthma.
I am now a running back for the New York Giants, and in a weird way, asthma has made me a better player. Because of it, I’ve had to fight even harder to get here. Today, at 31 years old, my asthma does not hold me back one bit—but it is something that’s still very close to my heart.
I still see myself as that asthmatic kid who was told he would never be able to play sports. Because I still see myself as that kid, that’s what keeps me going. That’s what fuels my drive.
I want kids with asthma to understand that it is possible to live with asthma, to overcome asthma, and to #TackleAsthma. I want these kids to understand that I know this because I was once just like them.
New York Giants