Player Profile: Shon Coleman defeats cancer to follow his dream

Leukiemia Auburn Tiger Shon Coleman

Shon Coleman

Many people are probably surprised I would choose an Auburn Tiger to write a player profile on. Well, Shon Coleman is special. He deserves the spotlight this week, even from a Tide fan!

Shon was a heavily recruited football player out of Olive Branch High School weighing 285 lbs and standing 6’6″ tall. He signed with Auburn in 2010 as an offensive lineman but was diagnosed with leukemia just a month later. 

It started with a random bump on his head. A bump his doctor said was nothing to worry about and could easily be removed. A week later, the family got the devastating news this star athlete had lymphoma. They made the hour and half drive to Memphis to St. Jude for confirmation of the diagnosis where they quickly confirmed Shon had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was immediately checked into the hospital and started chemotherapy the next day. Football would just have to wait. 

Coleman never stopped thinking about and working on his game. He always had faith he would survive. His mother had taught him , “God was the first person you turn to when you’re facing that type of adversity.” Churches from all over the South sent him well wishes and prayers. He always knew “God had a plan.”

He spent two full years receiving chemotherapy on a weekly basis even after the cancer went into remission. Other than fatigue, Coleman never had the typical side effects of the treatment. He never lost his hair or a bunch of weight. He never stopped working out. He wanted to stay in the best shape as he could. He had a plan that even cancer could not stop.

Throughout it all, playing football at Auburn was never far from his mind. The day after he started chemotherapy, the entire Auburn coaching staff flew to Memphis to visit and support Coleman. After that, they kept weekly tabs on him. Even though he never arrived on the Auburn campus, his teammates would send him texts to check on him. His response was always the same, “I’ll be back soon.”

Less than a year after his cancer diagnosis, he started taking classes at Auburn. He started working out with the team with a target return date of spring 2012. 

At the end spring in 2012 he was cleared for limited practice. His teammates gave him a standing ovation when they saw him dressed and ready to practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium. He was redshirted last year and got no playing time on the field. An impressive fall camp earned Coleman a spot as an offensive tackle on Auburn’s two-deep squad.  

In last Saturday’s game against Arkansas State, he finally got his chance to play in a college football game, something he had been waiting to do for over 3 years. In the fourth quarter he came into the game at left tackle and helped lead a Tiger touchdown drive. Auburn won their game 38-9. Teammate LaDarius Owens said it best, “After the game and still today, you can tell there’s a different glow about him. It’s kind of like he made it.”

It’s amazing what these kids go through to follow their dreams. The dedication and commitment required to accomplish their goals is more than most of us would ever consider doing to accomplish our own.

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