In this year’s NFL Draft, we have heard the stories of Percy Harvin’s positive drug test, Brian Cushing's alleged steroid use, Andre Smith's questionable work habits, and countless other negative headlines.
Wake Forest’s Aaron Curry has shone through it all and become my personal favorite player in this year’s draft, and I will cheer for him every Sunday as long as he is putting on a uniform.
Sure, the 6’2”, 254-pound body of solid linebacker muscle that can run 40 yards in 4.52 seconds helps my man-crush for Curry. His ability to play from anywhere at the linebacker position, regardless of scheme, is amazing, and his versatility makes him highly coveted and an almost certain top five pick come Saturday.
He did nothing but produce like crazy for the Demon Deacons and has scouts raving about his potential. Think about it: Have you heard any negatives about Curry?
But that is hardly the reason why Curry has quickly become my favorite player in this year’s draft. In fact, it has nothing to do with what he has done on the field.
Today, I was sent an article on Aaron Curry and the special opportunity that he is giving a child who suffered from cancer. Twelve-year-old Bryce is currently a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and he is in remission after winning his eight-month battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
On April 13, Curry visited Bryce in the hospital and was given a special tour of the hospital where Bryce stayed. Bryce showed him around many parts of the hospital, including where he was given chemotherapy, and also introduced him to many of the nurses and doctors that had helped Bryce during his battle.
Curry described the tour as powerful and a moving experience.
Wait just a second. A 12-year-old giving you a tour of a hospital was moving, says the future NFL linebacker?
That’s right, everyone—Aaron Curry gets what this is all about. He knows exactly who he is and understands the impact he has on the people around him.
After the tour was over, Curry asked Bryce if he would join him at his table at the NFL Draft, something Bryce was clearly not expecting. While the table in Radio City Music Hall is usually designated for family members, Curry explained that family goes a whole lot deeper than blood.
When asked why Curry had been so gracious towards Bryce, he talked about how important family has been to him throughout his life and success and how, when he was given his tour by Bryce, the doctors and nurses all seemed like family to Bryce.
I can personally relate to exactly what Curry is talking about. My brother, currently 14 years young, is a two-time cancer survivor and is getting ready to start high school.
He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was four and given a 30 percent chance of survival, and last summer was diagnosed with leukemia and given a 25 percent chance of living.
Luke defied the odds, had the doctors calling his situation a “miracle,” and has inspired thousands of people all over the country that know of Luke’s situation, from cousins in California to family friends in Iowa and uncles in Florida.
I can tell you from my own personal experience that Luke’s success in the hospital would not have been possible without two things—family and sports.
Just as Curry explained, the most important thing in the hospital is an upbeat spirit and a solid foundation of family backing the patient and always being there for them.
Luke was NEVER by himself, and every time I think about what my own mother and father went through, I get the chills thinking about how strong of people they are.
Luke knew multiple doctors and nurses by name and vice versa, and everyone who met Luke was touched and inspired.
Doctors became brothers when myself and my two other brothers could not be there, and nurses became sisters that seemingly could always put a smile on Luke’s face. We are still close with a good number of the medical staff at the hospital.
The second, sports, was just about equally important. Being a Milwaukee sports fan, the rivalries that ensue between myself and my Cubs fan brother are conversations I would not change for the world.
Over the summer, when Luke was battling his second cancer stint, the Cubs and Brewers were deadlocked in a race for the National League Central Division crown, and every time I would visit Luke in the hospital, he would be sporting his customized “Lukudome” jersey (a spin on Kosuke Fukudome) and watching the Cubs game, going nuts every time his hero Alfonso Soriano would do something to help out his beloved Cubbies.
His little jabs of asking how the Packers did last year would irritate me if it were anyone else, but the fact that I am able to have these conversations with my brother is something I will never take for granted, because I know how lucky I am to have him still here with me.
Now that my official tangent is over, I will get back to Curry and what he is doing with 12-year-old Bryce, who is also a huge football fan.
Bryce has never been to New York and seemed in absolute shock when Curry asked him to sit at his table on Saturday. Curry understands what it means to be a superstar and to give back to the community.
His stardom and future successes will most likely be used on defense and shutting down running backs, but the way he sees it is that his ability to give back “is more gratifying than any touchdown or sack.” Curry added, “Being here helps me realize the role I play in the community—how I can impact the community.”
Yeah, sounds like this guy was questionable on his drug test. I think not.
While Bryce will not get to sit at Curry’s table for very long once the draft starts, the experience that Curry is sharing with his newfound tour guide and buddy is unbelievable, and it hits home in such a good way that this Packers fan would cheer for him even if he went to the Vikings.
I am not going to sit here and say we need more of these players and that the game is being tarnished because of guys like Terrell Owens and Tank Johnson. The list goes on and on, which is exactly why I will not preach that.
The point is that you cannot get more of the players like Aaron Curry, on or off the field.