Troy Polamalu's Big Gift to a Little Girl

josh rolandContributor IJanuary 29, 2010

With the conclusion of the 2009 NFL season next weekend in Miami, finding news and articles to read about your favorite team can present a challenge.

Most of the players on the 30 teams that didn’t make it to the Super Bowl are resting up and enjoying their time off. They are not making a big splash in the headlines.

A fair amount of the stories you do read involve players and their contributions off the field to local charities and hospitals.

One such contribution, by none other than Pittsburgh’s own Troy Polamalu, hit home on a more personal level for me.

I work with a woman whose niece is currently fighting a courageous battle with a very rare form of cancer. There are only about 35 cases of this particular cancer in the United States.

This brave little girl is only 11, yet she is stronger than a lot of grown men that I know. Heather is currently at the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh receiving treatment but has been struggling with her battle the past few days.

Heather has been receiving a lot of love and support, as you would expect. What you might not expect though is that one of her biggest fans would be Troy Polamalu.

She is a very big Steelers fan and through one of the charities helping her, she got the chance to meet him.

Heather didn’t just get to meet him once though. Troy is a friend and frequent visitor of hers. He was actually with her yesterday for a little while as her health deteriorated and she fought to stay strong.

Because of how frequently Troy visits, Heather and Troy have been able to become very close friends. She has his cell phone number and is able to get a hold of him anytime her little heart desires.

From what I have heard from my coworker, Troy is as great as can be about it and you can tell that his outpouring of love and support is genuine.

Any fan of the NFL knows that Polamalu is a tough man on and off the field. He frequently plays through multiple injuries at a time, helps his team to his fullest extent and always gives 110 percent.

The fact that Polamalu has given Heather so much of his time and support in her fight should give everyone an idea of what kind of man he is. His toughness and dedication will undoubtedly serve a great inspiration to Heather and give her motivation to stay strong and fight.

Often times players are given praise in the media for their actions involving charitable giving. By no means am I saying that it is wrong for them to seek this acknowledgment, rather I am pointing out the fact Troy is one of the few who does not receive the credit.

If I had not written this article, only the friends and family of Heather would know about her courageous battle and the support she has received from Polamalu.

Former President Abraham Lincoln is credited with the saying “What kills a skunk is the publicity that it gives itself” which in short means that if you purposely draw attention to yourself for the good deeds you do, at some point you will regret doing so.

I would guess that after interviewing Polamalu before the draft, Kevin Colbert and the Steelers understood the kind of compassion and love that he possessed. They probably also realized that he had the intelligence and ability to use these traits in a way that would eventually allow him to give back to his community in a big way.

Besides the incredible athletic skill that Troy possesses, this is most likely why the Steelers decided to trade up in the 2003 NFL Draft to acquire him with the 16th overall pick. Before that, Pittsburgh had never traded up for a higher draft pick in franchise history.

Polamalu is as mentally and physically tough of a person as you will ever learn of. He always works to achieve his fullest potential and be all he can be.

We can only hope Troy’s toughness has already, or soon will, become a source of motivation and inspiration for Heather to stay strong in her fight with cancer.

I also would like to ask that anyone wanting to support Heather to remember her in their prayers, as that’s all we can really do at the moment. Here’s to hoping she stays strong and is successful in her fight.


UPDATE: Shortly after this article was written, Heather tragically lost her battle with cancer. We can only pray that her story will serve as an inspiration for other brave souls fighting similar battles to stay strong in their fight. As Heather would say, F.R.O.G (Fully Rely On God).


Josh Roland can be reached for questions or comments via Email: