Instead of attending Saturday’s annual Iron Bowl showdown between Auburn and Alabama, Wekiva (Fla.) senior defensive tackle Tashawn Manning was facing a far more serious battle this weekend.
On Thanksgiving morning, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Auburn commit was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia — a life-threatening cancer of the white blood cells — and began chemotherapy treatment just two days later, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“He has a 90 percent chance of it being cured, which is very, very good,” Manning’s father, former Marshall University standout Buck Manning, told the paper.
Manning was reportedly diagnosed with pneumonia after falling ill last month, but when his symptoms worsened last week despite medical treatment, he was taken to Orlando’s Florida North Hospital on the eve of Thanksgiving. The following morning, he received the leukemia diagnosis.
“It’s devastating, not only because he’s a football player, but because he is a great, great, great kid. Humility is the word that describes him and that’s why it is real hurtful,” Wekiva head coach Kenard Lang told the Orlando Sentinel. “He’s does all the little things right. It’s just one of those things where everybody asks the moral question, ‘Why?’
“One thing I know about it is that the Lord has a plan, and His plan is bigger than what this situation is right now. That’s really the only way to look at it, to just stay positive.”
Obviously, Manning will not participate in next week’s Central Florida All-Star Game, and he will reportedly no longer enroll early at Auburn, although the Tigers “support him 100 percent,” Buck Manning told Sentinel recruiting coverage coordinator Chris Hays.
The important thing now is Tashawn Manning’s health, and fortunately APL is a rare but treatable form of cancer.
According to the Sentinel, Manning’s initial reaction to the diagnosis: “I’m ready to get to the fight.”