Farewell Kenechi Udeze, You Will Always Be In Our Hearts

Dave SmithCorrespondent IJuly 30, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 28: Kenechi Udeze #95 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates with Kevin Williams #93 during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 28, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Eagles won 23-16. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Here's an article that I dedicate to the 26-year-old Kenechi Udeze. Kenechi fought to make his journy back to the NFL, but the battle against leukemia kept it short.

He's a tough man that deserves everyone's love and prayers.

I'll start off with his career:

Udeze attended the University of Southern California, and was a three-year starter and helped his team to a 2004 Rose Bowl victory as a junior. He finished his college career with 135 tackles; 51 of them for a loss, 28 sacks; which was a school record, 14 forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception, five pass deflections, and two blocked kicks.

Then came the NFL 2004 Draft where Udeze was drafted by the Vikings out of USC in the first round with the 20th overall selection.

During his rookie season with the Vikings, he started 15 games and recorded 36 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, and one pass deflected.

In 2005 Udeze was injured in the Vikings third game of the season with cartilage damage in his left knee, which kept him out the rest of the year. Udeze finished the season with three games started, five tackles, and one sack.

In 2006 he was once again the starter at left defensive end, playing 16 games, starting 15 and recorded 29 tackles and no sacks.

In 2007, again he played in all 16 games, with 15 starts, and had 47 tackles and five sacks.

On February 11, 2008, it was announced that Udeze was diagnosed by doctors with a form of lukemia. Udeze revealed that his leukemia was in a state of remission. Udeze would get a bone marrow transplant from his brother. He said at the time that he plans to play football again someday, but says health is his No. 1 priority for now.

Udeze returned to the Metrodome as an honorary captain for a game against the Green Bay Packers on November 9, 2008, again stating he would return. 

Then yesterday, Kenechi announced his retirement to a short and difficult career.

That was all the time young Kenechi Udeze had to his short career. It was sad to hear the news that he would have to retire.

Kenechi didn't deserve this and hopefully won't have a difficult life because of this. If there's any way that he could receive help, it would be from us.

Always keep him in mind and in prayers. He needs all the help from everyone and I wish the best of luck to him.

I will always keep Kenechi in my heart and in my prayers everyday. I hope everyone will to.

Good luck and God bless you Kenechi. Enjoy life and always remember that your fans are here for you.