Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman has become a national inspiration. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is an inspiration to many. As the only hearing-impaired player currently in the NFL, and the only legally deaf player in the history of the league, Coleman has a story of a rise to the top that has resonated with a lot of people. Coleman recently starred in a Duracell commercial that told his story, and that story inspired one nine-year-old girl to write to him.
Riley Kovalcik said in her letter to Coleman after the Seahawks' win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game that "I know how you feel. I also have hearing aids. Just try your best. I have [faith] in you Derrick... good job on January 20 game. Go Seattle Seahawks!"
The young girl then pointed out to Coleman the things they have in common.
"I [wear] two hearing aids. I love sports. Other things are I'm an identical twin and my twin [wears] one hearing aid too!"
Kovalcik's father Jake Tweeted the letter out, and it got Coleman's attention. He replied with his own letter.
And then, it was set up that the twins -- Riley and her sister, Erin -- would meet Coleman on ABC's Good Morning America. Coleman came out onto the set and surprised the girls, who had just finished talking about what they would do if they ever met their new hero. Coleman took a picture of himself with the girls, and then opened up his backpack for another surprise: He opened a packet and pulled out enough Super Bowl tickets for the entire Kovalcik family.
“It’s definitely great," Coleman said Wednesday of the Duracell commercial. "That’s one of the reasons Duracell and I linked up. We wanted to inspire others. We wanted to let them know that whatever accomplishments you want to achieve, regardless of whatever obstacles you have to overcome, you can always endure. Just trust the power within and do what you want to do. That’s basically what I’m doing. One of the biggest parts about that commercial and that whole campaign was what I just wanted to reach out, same as I’ve been doing since college, just reach out to the other hard-of-hearing and deaf community – kids I can relate to and who can relate to me.
"Just to help them and give them the motivation like I would have needed if I hadn’t had my parents. But the fact that it went way beyond [a commercial] was heartfelt and warming. Everybody has problems. Nobody is perfect. I wear a hearing aid, some people have glasses, some people have depression. Everybody has something. But as long as you don’t let that get in the way of what you want to do, you can do anything you want to do.”