September 13, 2016

Positivity: Football Walk-on Michael Hirsch battles rare disease, lives dream at Michigan

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Ann Arbor, Michigan — It’s a long story. Read the whole thing, with a hanky nearby:

11:54 a.m. EDT September 9, 2016

Combating a rare blood vessel disease, walk-on fullback is living his dream on gridiron

On Sunday, Michael Hirsch finally rested.

For nearly 20 years, he has dreamed about playing college football. And in 2011, he got to the cusp of stepping on that field at Harvard.

But just when he got close enough to a real college game, he was sidetracked by a life-threatening condition.

He rallied to graduate and work on Wall Street, but the football dream appeared gone.

To combat Wegener’s disease, Hirsch endured at least 14 rounds of chemotherapy and five or six surgeries.

He had moments when he could barely walk and couldn’t talk, and there were no answers about his future, about how he would live, let alone work or be an elite athlete.

Yet sitting at Ann Arbor’s Real Seafood Company restaurant on Main Street Sunday after playing in his first college football game for Michigan, Hirsch finally exhaled.

U-M’s 24-year-old walk-on fullback, called “Gramps” by his younger teammates, realized he had to appreciate his journey.

“I took a deep breath. It was the first time I had taken a deep breath in maybe a year like that. To just enjoy the moment there.”

Almost 30 hours earlier, he was in the middle of Michigan Stadium, lining up on a third-and-4, running a route and catching Shane Morris’ 15-yard pass for a first down.

Back on the Michigan sideline, Hirsch was swarmed. He felt like 30 or 40 of his teammates were patting him on the back and helmet.

“He came to the sideline and everybody hugged him,” starting fullback Khalid Hill said after the game. “It was almost like he wanted to cry. To see somebody’s passion for the game and passion for the University of Michigan is amazing.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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