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Kenechi Udeze grateful to be alive, coaching


The nerve damage in his feet ended his NFL career.

But former Vikings first-round pick Kenechi Udeze won’t complain about it, because that damage was a result of the chemotherapy during his treatment for leukemia.

Udeze is healthy and back in Minnesota now as a coaching intern, and grateful for the chance.

“I feel great,” Udeze said, via Tom Pelissero of “The only thing I’ve got to worry about is my feet giving me and issue, and that’s it. So, I really lucked out throughout the whole thing.

Yeah, I lost my career. But I’m still alive and I’m still here.”

Udeze is coming up on the five-year anniversary of the bone marrow transplant which helped save him, and said after a few stints working at the University of Washington and with the Seahawks, he’s found a new calling that replaces playing.

“Coaching is a passion of mine and something that I definitely want to do for a very long time,” Udeze said.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was Udeze’s defensive coordinator during his playing days, and remembers visiting him in the hospital and wondering how long he’d have.

“Every time I see him, I’m just amazed,” Frazier said. “It’s almost like seeing a walking miracle, because at that time, when I was visiting him in the hospital, it was a concern about whether or not he survived much longer.

“To see him today, healthy, moving around real well, communicating, talking — it’s an inspiration. If you were someone that may be facing adversity, going through a tough time, you look at a guy like Udeze and you say, ‘You know what? There’s hope.’ He never gave up. He continued to battle, and it’s great to have him around.”

The 30-year-old Udeze benefitted from finding a marrow match in his brother, and though his attempt at a comeback was derailed by the side effects of the disease, he hopes to continue to share his message.

“It put things into perspective, but more importantly, it opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Udeze said. “Not saying football was never important. It always and forever will be my passion and something that I’ll never lose sight of. But coming up on my five-year anniversary here in July, I have a lot to be thankful for.

“I hear all these stories about other people having to endure for years and years. I went through it for six months, and I was just fortunate enough that my physical health and the state that I went in helped me so much with the recovery. To say that I only suffer from nerve damage, that’s a blessing, it’s really a blessing.”

And that kind of outlook needs to be shared with young players, beyond anything he might tell them about playing the defensive line.

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14 Responses to “Kenechi Udeze grateful to be alive, coaching”
  1. kingdm8 says: Jun 15, 2013 5:58 PM

    Good for him. Good luck with your career.

  2. 84straightcashhomey says: Jun 15, 2013 6:00 PM

    Vikings are a class act organization

  3. packhawk04 says: Jun 15, 2013 6:05 PM

    Nice story, awesome to see his great attitude. Vikes are probably still wishing they drafted rodgers instead of him though.

  4. 6thsense79 says: Jun 15, 2013 6:22 PM

    Losing ones career after reaching the top of their profession would leave most anyone down and depress. But instead of sulking and bemoaning his circumstances Udeze has moved on and genuinely feels lucky. On top of that he is still able to stay connected to the sport he loves.

  5. trevor123698 says: Jun 15, 2013 6:42 PM

    he could still be playing in the NFL and healed without the use of whatever it is he did. Leukemia, as with all cancer, is characterized by trace mineral deficiencies. In the case of leukemia lithium deficiency plays a major role but deficiencies in all 60 trace minerals are the true cause. Diet is often a major factor as well. Bottom line, anyone with cancer can be cured quite easily through nutritional supplementation. “A world without cancer: The story of vitamin B17” proves these theories beyond any shadow of a doubt

  6. cmoney20 says: Jun 15, 2013 6:43 PM

    His friends just call him Udeze. His passion was always to be a coach anyway. We all know that.

  7. stevent92 says: Jun 15, 2013 6:55 PM

    Rodgers drafted in 2005.

    Udeze drafted in 2004.

    Complete facepalm.

  8. RUAHORNH8R says: Jun 15, 2013 6:58 PM

    Can’t wait for all my fellow Minnesotans to change their tune, when they see how great this will be for our local economy all around!

  9. asimonetti88 says: Jun 15, 2013 7:30 PM

    He was a great player at USC. Glad to hear everything in life is working out for him now!

  10. thevikes99 says: Jun 15, 2013 7:47 PM

    Great story not just because I’m a Vikings fan it’s just something good came out of something bad for once. Tired of the negative news dig for all the time.

  11. GenXJay says: Jun 15, 2013 7:58 PM

    Nice to hear his story.
    If he pans out as a helluva coach, I would still of chose him over ShAaron in the draft.
    Also, the Vikings organization are exhibiting another good faith story too.
    They honor their players….ahem, cheese & Favre?

  12. packhawk04 says: Jun 15, 2013 9:46 PM

    Erasmus james was 2005… vikes first round busts are too many to remember.

  13. lnfinite says: Jun 16, 2013 1:25 AM

    Great story, Kenechi is a class act!

  14. monkeyboymotors says: Jun 16, 2013 7:11 PM

    tony mandarich

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