There was a time when Archie Taylor Jr. doubted whether he would ever play football again. At age 12, Taylor Jr. was diagnosed with lymphoma in his neck, a debilitating cancer diagnosis that left him wondering whether he would ever regain his strength.
That's when Taylor Jr.'s hero, the recently drafted former University of Texas superstar Vince Young, showed up and helped inspire him to keep fighting and working toward a return to the football field. Six years later, cancer free and fresh off competing in the Texas Class 2A Division I state title game, the Hempstead (Texas) High running back is glad he listened.
"It inspired me a lot," Taylor told MyFoxHouston. "I remember when I was in the hospital seeing him in the Rose Bowl game do good, and then all of the sudden he popped up at my house, everything was shocking and surprising and I was thankful for that.
"He's a great football player and he was like telling me stay strong, work hard and I was absorbing it like a sponge."
When Young visited with Taylor Jr., the first-round draft pick gave the pre-teen the Tennessee Titans jersey he had been given after he was selected in the NFL draft's first round.
While that day helped push Taylor Jr. toward a return in football, his high school coach insists that the running back who gained 1,316 yards and scored an impressive 19 touchdowns for the Bobcats now serves as a similar inspirational role himself.
"When I looked at Archie back then and visited with him, he told me coach 'all I want to do is play for the Bobcats,'" Hempstead coach Ricky Sargent told MyFoxHouston. "And to see him now after going through what he had gone through then, it's truly amazing.
"He's a walking miracle."
Indeed, though Hempstead may have fallen to Melissa (Texas) High, 28-15, with the state crown on the line, Taylor has won all the bigger battles he's faced in his life already, thanks in part to a former Titan who now suits up for the Eagles.