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Amobi Okoye survived rare disease, coma to return to NFL

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Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye’s career never quite developed the way the Texans hoped it would when they made him a first-round pick in 2007, but that doesn’t make the story of his comeback from a rare disease any less remarkable.

Okoye’s career came screeching to a halt in March 2013 when he began having seizures and lost his ability to speak while at hospitals trying to identify the problem. He was eventually put into a medically-induced coma when doctors discovered he was suffering from anti-NMDA encephalitis, a rare condition that’s described as being in the “million-to-one range.” He lost 78 pounds while undergoing treatment, including chemotherapy, and had to relearn many of the things we take for granted before getting to the point that he could think about playing football again.

“It’s a blessing every day,” Okoye said, via the Dallas Morning News. “You count your blessings. Your faith gets tested. I am happy to be back doing what I love to do.”

Okoye has not practiced in full with the Cowboys yet this summer, but got the green light to start contact work on Thursday. He could play in the third preseason game and the state of the Cowboys line gives him a shot to do more than that, although it will be hard not to find his comeback a success even if it doesn’t last beyond the summer.

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27 Responses to “Amobi Okoye survived rare disease, coma to return to NFL”
  1. nuxsucks says: Aug 15, 2014 8:05 AM

    Incredible, glad he pulled through and someone is giving him another shot.

  2. ravensnation85 says: Aug 15, 2014 8:12 AM

    Never like the circumstances of some of these articles but I sure love when someone can pull through and live a normal life. Just goes to show how strong some people can be. God bless, Amobi

  3. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Aug 15, 2014 8:14 AM

    Incredible come back story in the works. Wish him the best. Dallas needs him to help!

  4. dccowboy says: Aug 15, 2014 8:16 AM

    Wow. All I knew from the Cowboys was that he had a ‘medical condition’.

    I had no idea it was like this. The guy is a miracle on two feet.

    The Cowboys deserve kudos for signing this guy and giving him a chance to recover his dream. Hopefully he’ll develop back into what he once was, one heck of a good DT.

  5. killxswitch says: Aug 15, 2014 8:27 AM

    Despite being drafted in 2007, this guy is still only 27. 78 lbs lost! Amazing recovery, I hope he makes the team.

  6. joefelicelli says: Aug 15, 2014 8:31 AM

    He was solid when he played under Marinelli in Chicago, and can be a decent player if he is healthy. As young as he was when he was drafted, it was disappointing that he couldn’t put it all together in Houston, but I wish him the best. And with that dumpster fire of a defense in Dallas, they need all the help they can get.

  7. We, the Steelers, support the immediate relocation of the Bills, Raiders, Vikings, Jaguars, Buccaneers, Rams, Ravens, Chargers, Colts, and Cardinals. Their current cities are an embarrassment to the NFL and the game Pittsburgh invented. #6 says: Aug 15, 2014 8:32 AM

    Wow, what a bust.

  8. gentlebenno says: Aug 15, 2014 8:33 AM

    After what he went through, if he’s back in pads, he’s already won.

  9. daaabears says: Aug 15, 2014 8:36 AM

    Best of luck Amobi! Welcome back.

  10. mnvikingsfan says: Aug 15, 2014 9:06 AM

    Kudos for even thinking of making a comeback after going thru what he did. He definitely has two brass ones!!

    Even if he doesn’t make it playing football again, I’d bet money someone is already thinking of making his story into a movie…….

  11. mousietongue says: Aug 15, 2014 9:18 AM

    Great kid totally misused by the Texan’s defensive coordinator when he was a young player. Hope he comes back strong even if it is with the Cowboys.

  12. hansenbrothers says: Aug 15, 2014 9:19 AM

    Cool story, God bless this man.

  13. ninjapleazee says: Aug 15, 2014 9:49 AM

    So he had to “re-learn” basic things we take for granted but yet is cleared to play football? What am I missing?

  14. voiceofreasonsays says: Aug 15, 2014 9:51 AM

    This man deserves a medal!

  15. shatho1 says: Aug 15, 2014 9:55 AM

    it truly is a blessing. we have faith on u and may this be your comeback year.

  16. ravenmadnky says: Aug 15, 2014 10:01 AM

    Amobi, Louisville is pulling for you. Go Cards! (U of L, not Arizona).

  17. christophershearin says: Aug 15, 2014 10:33 AM

    I always found it amazing that he played college ball at 16. Dude is a beast

  18. cwon14 says: Aug 15, 2014 10:34 AM

    The condition has never been disclosed to my knowledge before, you can’t help but root for the guy.

  19. iamdinguskhan says: Aug 15, 2014 11:01 AM

    I’m a Redskins fan but I will be pulling for him.

  20. celinao8 says: Aug 15, 2014 11:08 AM

    I also had this disease, last year. I had alot of the same treatments as he did, and had to learn to walk again. This disease is horrible, as are all. Its rare, but not as rare as initially thought, often misdiagnosed as I initially was with an early onset of schizophrenia. Glad to see he has recovered, its a long road for all of us who suffer from NMDA.

  21. ajgreenhof says: Aug 15, 2014 11:10 AM

    Wow that’s scary stuff.

    Respect for Okoye I wish him the best of luck/

  22. muencht says: Aug 15, 2014 11:35 AM

    Incredible story. I had not heard the details before.

    An incredible recovery. Praise God.

    Incredible move by Dallas to give him a tryout. I pray Okoye makes the team. This would be one of the greatest comeback stories in sports.

  23. damcmp says: Aug 15, 2014 11:52 AM

    Good Luck!

  24. redsoxu571 says: Aug 15, 2014 12:27 PM

    Ah, we’d heard all about the undisclosed medical condition…it’s nice to finally hear what he went through so we can appreciate the tremendous effort he’s put forth. I hope for nothing but the best for him going forward!

  25. djshnooks says: Aug 15, 2014 12:35 PM

    Good for him…

    Now that’s a “feel good” story there.

  26. jayovalentine says: Aug 15, 2014 12:40 PM

    Best of luck from a Redskins fan !

  27. jsalinas823 says: Aug 16, 2014 2:40 AM

    Wow. What a story. I was diagnosed with the same disease a year ago and like him was lucky enough to return to my life as well. Its a very rare disease in males so I was shocked to learn that he had this. Thank god he got through and god bless.

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