Considering everything cancer survivor and University of Pittsburgh running back James Conner has been through in his life, he told The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday that Saturday’s 43-42 win over Clemson in Death Valley, which snapped the longest home winning streak in the FBS, ranks near the top of his highest moments.
“That’s easily one of the greatest moments of my life, not just my football career,” Conner told Jim Rome. “For us to go down there, knock the number two team in the nation off at their place, it’s just really a loss for words.”
Having battled Hodgkin lymphoma over the course of the past year, the former ACC Player of The Year knows how important his playing career really is and sees his on-field acheivements as a bonus to what really matters in life.
“Just being able to live, really life is first,” Conner said. “When you go through something like that, I know I had a good percentage of the survival rate, I had great confidence in the Lord and my doctor, but that’s huge for me to be able to beat, and then even if the game was taken away from me, I still would have been thankful to still have a life.”
While Conner is still able to play, he wants to do so in honor of those who can’t. The redshirt junior talked about a picture he tweeted a few weeks back with a young kid in a wheel chair with the caption “Play for somebody who can’t,” a message he tells his teammates all the time.
“I told the guys that before the Penn State game. I try to remind them of that, ‘you play for someone who can’t,’” Conner said. “The young kid who’s in the wheel chair, I have a close friend in Erie named Ian, he was a wrestler, he had a lot of Division I scholarships, Ian Malesiewski. During a wrestling tournament at Akron, he went for a wrestling move and he got paralyzed from the neck down, and he was also a football player too.
“You know, it’s easy for us to complain about going out to practice, having to lift, but man other people would kill to be in your position, so you just play the game for someone who can’t, because somebody is literally wishing they were you. So you just don’t take it for granted, and you just give back.”