Derrick Nash seemingly had everything going for him.
The Carrollton High School (Mich.) senior was the state’s top rusher with 1,967 yards and 27 touchdowns and he had a full scholarship to Central Michigan.
But in April all of that changed. Nash started to feel tired and had a high fever. He was rushed to the hospital where he learned news that no one ever wants to hear.
“I went to the emergency room, and that’s when everything broke loose,” Nash told mlive.com. “They did some blood work. My white blood cell count was three times as high as it should be, and my platelet count was three times as low as what it should be.
“It was leukemia."
Nash began chemotherapy on May 6 and while he was worried about his health, he also was worried that his dream of becoming an FBS player would never come true.
“It was my dream come true,” Nash told mlive.com. “Playing Division I football … I never thought I would get the chance, but I was getting the chance. Signing that letter of intent was the greatest moment in my life. It was something I thought would never happen happening.”
But Central Michigan coach Dan Enos didn’t give it a second thought and told Nash not to worry about losing his scholarship and that he was welcome on campus whenever he felt up to it.
“One of the first things we told him was that he was going to play football again and that he was going to play for CMU,” Enos said. “Keeping him on scholarship was a no-brainer. It’s the right thing to do. That’s the philosophy from the president through the athletic director to the coaches. You do the right thing.”
Nash will not be able to play this season as his body recovers from chemotherapy, so he plans to take a medical redshirt. Nash hopes to start working out again and be ready to compete for playing time in 2014.
“The doctors said I’ll be able to recover,” Nash told mlive.com. “I can’t wait to get back and get to work. A couple days ago, I couldn’t stand up without getting tired. Now I’m ready to go. I’m going to work to become stronger than I was before, faster than I was before.”
Added Enos: “There is a reason you go through tough things. I am confident Derrick is going to come back to CMU and to our team tougher and stronger than before.
“I can’t wait until he can run onto our field before a game wearing a CMU uniform. That’ll be a great moment for a lot of people.”
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