A year ago, Rio Rico (Ariz.) running back Ricky Perez was among the most prolific football players in Arizona, rushing for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season.
No touchdown last fall, though, could be as sweet as the one he scored Friday night against Rincon (Tucson, Ariz.).
In May, Perez was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He missed the last two weeks of spring football, and went through chemotherapy. He had more CT scans and two more tumors were discovered – one in his stomach and the other below his lung.
Still, he was determined to play. On Aug. 14, four days before Rio Rico’s season opener, Perez went through another round of chemo. That consisted of five straight days of chemo, followed by 21 days of rest, then another round of chemo.
One week after finishing that last round, Perez made his triumphant return to the football field Friday night. Per KVOA-TV, Perez finished with three catches for 70 yards.
And he had that rushing touchdown. How sweet that must have been, even if his team did fall 49-14.
You can see the TD at the 4:12 mark below, courtesy of KVOA.
Finally getting onto the field for the team’s fifth game of the season, then scoring a TD – tone can only imagine the emotions Perez was feeling.
“This gave me more of a reason to lead by example and lead by what the situation is with me, to show them I’m going through hell right now, but I’m still out there to get them better and myself,” Perez told USA TODAY in August. “They see that because I barely got out of chemo sessions and I’m here. I’m not going to quit on my teammates and they’re there for me.”