Amobi Okoye, the youngest player to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, a top-10 draft pick and currently a defensive lineman for Dallas Cowboys went through a life changing event that brought him to tears as he testified of God’s goodness on his recovery from the pangs of the rare brain disease “Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis” during a recent thanksgiving celebration held in his honor in Houston, TX.
Okoye was diagnosed with the rare brain disease in 2013, after suffering a seizure which led to him being place in a medically-induced coma.“They pretty much told me everything that happened and I didn’t believe it,” said Okoye when describing his medical ordeal and diagnosis. Almost two years after the life-altering seizure, through determination, perseverance and faith in God, Okoye has fought back to reclaim his life and stand by those who have lost loved ones or are currently recovering from the disease.
At the recent Thanksgiving celebration in Okoye’s honor, he expressed appreciation to family members, friends and the medical/health professional team that stood by him during a most difficult and trying time in his life. “I would just like to tell people that there is a God out there that has a plan and purpose for your life. All you have to do is believe and know that the plan is already set for you,” said Amobi Okoye.
“It took a lot, I had to start with baby steps, walking and talking, and writing my name,” said Okoye. His family members, known for their strong faith in God, leaned even more on God during those trying times as they stood firmly by Okoye and exercised their faith and belief in God for a perfect healing and recovery concerning Okoye.
Several family members spoke at the event, as they all give credit of the testimony of Okoye’s miraculous recovery to God. “We give all the glory to God,” Edna Okoye, Okoye’s mum said to attendees at the thanksgiving dinner celebration in her son’s honor and urged the audience to read, Susannah Cahalan’s book, Brain on Fire, to get a glimpse of what Okoye went through in battling this disease. Arinze Okoye, Amobi’s elder brother further commended his younger brother for the strength and determination he exhibited during the recovery process. “He was pushing himself everyday to get back to living his regular life and playing football and wasn’t going to let anything stop him, and we had to slow him down to make sure he didn’t over do it, at times,” said Okoye of his brother’s strong-willed determination to recover.
Even the Doctors and health practitioners involved in his care are still awed at the progress and his miraculous recovery. “The same dedication he showed with his academics and athletics earlier in his life was evident throughout his rehabilitation process, aided by the unwavering support of his family,” said Dr. Joseph Jacob of TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital.
In support of the Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance, Okoye shared his story to increase awareness of the disease that almost sidelined him, an experience that he says “intensified his outlook on life.”
Although the Dallas Cowboys made a recent decision to delay activating Okoye from the reserve/non-football injury-list, Okoye is unwavering in his faith as he continues to set his mind on a 2015 comeback. “My belief is that I am going back to play football. I want to show people that you can overcome something like this and still do what you love to do,” said Okoye. “I take life on a minute-by-minute, day-by-day basis, and whatever God calls for is what He calls for.”
Okoye has become an inspiration and a role model for many, both on and off the field, for his positive outlook and persistence in the face of challenging circumstances. Amobi Okoye also continues his efforts to educate and empower youths through an organization he founded in 2007 called “Kickoff 4 Kids,” a non-profit that provides programs to give hope to kids and communities and build unity among children around the world.
Click HERE to check out our exclusive coverage of Amobi Okoye at a Gala event in Houston
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Photo credit: Christopher Allen of C. Allen Media