In what might be the feel-good Australian sports story of the year, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jesse Williams has been given the all-clear to resume playing after a cancer battle.
While most of the NFL discussion in Australia focused on the struggle of former NRL star Jarryd Hayne, 25-year-old Williams was fighting not only for his sporting career, but his life.
Williams was diagnosed with papillary type two cancer in May 2015 and had a kidney removed a short time later.
But it in a testament to his work ethic and courage, he was back doing conditioning work a month after his diagnosis and was back training with the team on August 6.
“Today was the day I kept in my mind the whole time being in the hospital: the first day back, sort of what was driving me,” he said at the time.
“It was a big deal to get out there today.”
Willliams, from Brisbane, was taken by Seattle as a fifth-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft after playing college football for Alabama.
But his first two seasons in the big leagues were ruined by knee injuries, before his shock cancer diagnosis last year.
Despite the shocking run, Williams has been determined to realise his goal of an NFL career and he was the recipient of the league’s Ed Block Courage Award for those who “exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage”.
Although he has never played a game for the franchise, he has a championship ring courtesy of the Seahawks win in Super Bowl 47 in 2014.
The Seahawks appointed him captain for a pre-season match against the Kansas City Chiefs in August, while the Chiefs captain for that match – Eric Berry – had also recently been diagnosed with cancer.
Williams said he felt like crying leading the team onto the field.
“It meant a lot to me to be out there and represent me, and Eric was out there as well battling with his stuff as well,” he said.
On Friday morning, after finally being cleared by the Seahawks to return, Williams – nicknamed The Monstar – took to Twitter to reveal the news.
“Finally got the all clear to return to football,” he wrote.
“Now just wait for my opportunity. #F***Cancer.