One of the most intriguing picks in the Falcons’ 2016 draft class was LB De’Vondre Campbell. An athletic, big, and physical defender—Campbell is the prototype of what Dan Quinn is looking for in his players. After an impressive rookie season, Campbell is now making the transition to playing SAM (or strongside) linebacker. He’s looked very good at his new position in camp and preseason, leading to high hopes for the sophomore player.
Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne took a closer look into Campbell’s path to the NFL, and what he found is quite remarkable. Campbell’s journey from a bottom-tier high school team in Florida, to JUCO in Kansas, to Minnesota, and finally to the Falcons in 2016 is both amazing and inspiring. Here is a particularly moving excerpt from Tyler’s piece:
Then, there's the breast cancer. This is what still gives him chills because De'Vondre knows he could lose his mom "at any point." When he was 11, all he knew was that Cathryn was losing her hair and in the hospital. Dad concealed the dark reality that she could've died. And when doctors thought they had removed all of the cancer with one procedure, they were wrong.
A second procedure was needed.
She's still alive.
Campbell wants to bring her back to another Super Bowl.
"That's why I approach every situation like I do," Campbell says, "because if she can go through near-death situations and still come out with a smile, there's nothing I can go through that can be worse."
I urge you to check out the rest of the piece, as it’s both fascinating and illuminating. Campbell has been through a lot to get here, and those experiences have helped shape the player he is today. Here’s to hoping that he continues to build upon his successful rookie season, and that his leadership is instrumental in guiding the Falcons’ back to the playoffs (and hopefully more) in 2017.