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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Steelers running back James Conner had a tough road to success, and he is paying homage to a fellow Pitt alumnus who gave him the motivation to succeed.

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On Tuesday, the NFL Pro Bowl rosters were announced, and the 2nd-year star was selected to represent the AFC.

Conner has stepped in and successfully filled Le’Veon Bell’s shoes this season. In 12 games, he has over 900 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards/carry. The versatile back is also 2nd in the league in yards after catch per reception at (10.1).

Before his NFL career, Conner was a standout with the Pitt Panthers football program. Things changed in 2015 when he tore his ACL and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during the recovery process.

After vowing to fight the battle against the disease and with the support of the city behind him, he made a full recovery and was finally cancer-free in the following offseason.

This week after the Pro Bowl rosters were announced, Conner looked back at a message he received from fellow Pro Bowler and Pitt Alumnus Aaron Donald. Donald is an all-pro defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams.

“Three years ago, @AaronDonald97 sent a text to @JamesConner_ after the RB was diagnosed with cancer. Today, both are Pro Bowlers.”

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Conner posted the message to his Instagram page and talked about how much it meant to him.

“Three years ago big bro Aaron Donald sent me this text after I got diagnosed with cancer. Today special because it’s all coming to reality…1 Pro Bowl down, more to come…thank you for the motivation bro…hard work pays off!”

Donald said he’s proud of what Conner has achieved so far.