Kenechi Udeze: Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate
In case you didn’t get the chance to hear it today on the Kevin Calabro Show, former NFL 1st round draft pick, DE Kenechi Udeze, joined us in-studio to discuss his amazing story as he recovers from leukemia.
Udeze, 27, was one of the most imposing physical specimens to come out of the USC football program. After assisting Pete Carroll’s Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory in 2004, his junior season, Udeze declared for the NFL Draft. He was selected by the Minnesota Vikings with the 20th pick in the draft.
Udeze became an impact immediately on the Vikings D-Line, starting 15 games and recording 36 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble, and one pass deflected in his rookie season. Injuries interrupted his second season, but he quickly returned to become a force from 2006-2007.
On February 11th, 2008, Udeze was officially diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer. He was place in the Injured Reserve as he received treatment.
In 2009, Udeze attempted to return to the team. Though he was in peak physical form, a side effect of his chemotherapy known as peripheral neuropathy caused numbness in his feet, making it impossible to explode off the line.
Udeze officially announced his retirement on July 29th, 2009.
Since ending his playing career, Udeze returned to USC finish his education while receiving treatment. He earned his degree in sociology this May. Still in fantastic physical condition, Udeze was hired by Steve Sarkisian as a strength coach at the University of Washington.
A proud father and recovering cancer victim, Udeze feels a responsibility to educate people about cancer and help individuals understand that it can strike anyone at any time–even a professional athlete at the top of his game.
Udeze now works with multiple charities raising money to find a cure for cancer. Udeze is currently associated with Lance Armstrong Foundation and will be competing in the LIVESTRONG Challenge on June 20th, 2010.
Find more information about the LIVESTRONG Challenge and the Lance Armstrong Foundation on the livestrong.org website.