PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner has been announced as the recipient of the 2019 Ed Block Courage Award.
The former Pitt star and Erie native won his battle against Hodgkin lymphoma in 2016.READ MORE: 2 Charged In Gunfire During Racial Justice March
His teammates nominated him to receive this year’s Courage House award for his resiliency and his ability to perform at an “elite level,” even in the face of harrowing adversity.
Conner’s stage two Hodgkin lymphoma was discovered by doctors when he was getting treatment for a torn MCL.
Conner said the doctor said he wouldn’t have survived long if the disease was not found around Thanksgiving of 2015.
“He said you got about a week if you didn’t get this treated,” Conner recalled on a podcast with hop-hop artist Mike Stud. “You had about a week, at the rate it was growing.”
The tumors were discovered around his heart, and Conner said that there could have been a chance he might have died on the field because the tumors applied pressure to the blood vessels in the area.
Between the injury and the cancer diagnosis, Conner was dealing with some of the most traumatic situations for a young college athlete.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: State Health Department Reports 2,610 New Coronavirus Cases, 44.1% Of Adult Pennsylvanians Fully Vaccinated
“It’s easy to say it was the darkest time ever,” Conner said.
The running back would go on to start chemotherapy treatments, and in a matter of months, he was able to announce his cancer-free prognosis.
Now, his strength is being officially recognized.
“It’s an honor first and foremost to be recognized, but especially by my teammates, the ones I am with every day,” said Conner in a press release.
“They are the ones I go to practice with, compete on the field, essentially go to war with. For my teammates to vote for me shows the mutual respect we have for one another and it’s such an honor to win this.”
On Nov. 5, Holy Family Institute and the Pittsburgh Steelers will honor not only Conner, but Holy Family Institute alumni and Miss Pennsylvania Tiffany Seitz at the 2019 Arthur J. Rooney Courage Awards Luncheon.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Police Safely Locate Previously Missing Teen Siobhan Barnett
Because of maternal cocaine usage, Seitz was born dependent on cocaine. She was not expected to live longer than two weeks, but like Conner, she defied the odds with her strength and resilience.