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.