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Memphis, Tennessee (May 6, 2014) – Auburn University offensive lineman Shon Coleman, who beat leukemia through personalized treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, will join NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce a first round NFL Draft pick Thursday, May 8, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Coleman graduated from Auburn this month, and hopes to be a draftee when he completes his final year of athletic eligibility during the 2014 season. His mother, DeKeshia, will join him. Thirty draft prospects will participate in Thursday’s first-round event, including Coleman’s teammate, Auburn offensive lineman Greg Robinson.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which leads the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases, is the “Official Champion of Play” for NFL PLAY 60, which strives to give all kids the chance to PLAY 60 and lead active and healthy lives. This partnership opens up incredible experiences for patients like Coleman, and helps raise the necessary awareness and funds to help ensure that no family ever receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.
His role in the 2014 NFL Draft is the next step in a journey of more than miles for Coleman, whose course in 2010 seemed clear. As Mississippi’s top rated high school football player, and one of the nation’s most sought after recruits overall, his trajectory seemed certain—high school graduation, college and football through a scholarship to Auburn University, the 6-foot-6, 300-pounder seemed assured a future with the NFL.
But a biopsy of strange lumps on his neck and head showed he had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of youth cancer. His plans sidetracked, Coleman readied for a contest he, his family and friends were determined to win.
Coleman underwent chemotherapy through a tailored two and a half year plan at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. With his immune system impaired during treatments, he could not participate in group sports, but he worked with doctors and nurses to keep his muscles strong — and his dreams to play football again alive.
With treatment, Coleman’s ALL went into remission, but rebuilding and recovery took time. He enrolled in classes at Auburn in January 2011 and returned to the practice field in March 2012. In September 2013, Coleman’s path realigned, returning to competitive football, helping the Tigers to a 38-9 victory over Arkansas State University — a couple years later than hoped, but with the chance to live a dream hard fought.
Coleman continues to gain strength and will pursue the starting left tackle job when the Tigers’ season starts up in September. Next on his to do list is to help Auburn win the national championship that barely eluded the team this year.
“We are so appreciative to the NFL for this unique opportunity for Shon to represent St. Jude and participate in the 2014 NFL draft,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., ALSAC/St. Jude CEO. “Shon fought hard to beat cancer and get back to the sport he loves, and our partnership with the NFL is helping countless kids, like Shon, to overcome their diseases to live their dreams.”
About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital:St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other deadly diseases. St. Jude has the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers, and treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since we opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent in the next decade. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs we make, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org or following St. Jude on facebook.com/stjude and twitter.com/stjude.