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  • Titans running back Derrick Henry tells the story of how losing family members to cancer inspired him to choose the American Cancer Society as his personal cause for this week's My Cause, My Cleats campaign
By Derrick Henry
November 30, 2017

This week, the NFL is rolling out the My Cause, My Cleats campaign for the second year. The campaign allows players to break uniform code for one game and wear brightly-colored, customized cleats to show support for a cause that is important to them. Each player's cleats tell a story. Here's the story behind Titans running back Derrick Henry's cleats. 

While watching TV recently, I heard the song “I’ll Take You There” playing in the background of a commercial. I’d been tuning out the commercial break before then, but once I heard that song, I immediately thought of my Aunt Brenda, who passed away from lung cancer in 2014. That was her song. She loved that ’70s soul, and I can still hear her singing it today.

Cancer has had a big impact on my life. I’ve lost three loved ones from the disease, and that’s why this Sunday I’ll be wearing a pair of gold, black and silver cleats, painted with the American Cancer Society logo and the names of the family I lost—Aunt Brenda, my uncle Bubba, and my granddad Johnny.

I chose the American Cancer Society as my cause for My Cause, My Cleats to honor their memory and to raise awareness for cancer. I want people with cancer to know that somebody is thinking about them and praying for them.

My aunt Brenda was the first of my grandma’s 14 kids to pass away. She fought lung cancer as long as she could, but she lost the battle to it. Besides listening to “I’ll Take You There,” we also keep Aunt Brenda’s memory alive through my two-year-old sister, Kynsley. Her middle name is Brendelle, and she already kind of resembles Aunt Brenda, so we’re always thinking of her.

My uncle Bubba passed away this past July, also from lung cancer. He was almost 70. Bubba always loved to play cards, so anytime I play cards today, I’ll always say that he’s the one who taught me how to play. He mostly loved to play Tonk and Spades. I beat him a few times, but he was pretty good.

My granddad Johnny, he had back cancer. We lost him during the summer of 2010. It was the same thing—he battled as long as he could. I grew up in Florida, in a small town near Jacksonville, and my granddad always loved to go fishing. He was an outdoors guy. I haven’t been fishing in awhile, but whenever I was little around my granddad, we always went fishing. That’s what he liked to do.

The cleats Henry will wear on Sunday. 

Courtesy Tennesee Titans

Whenever it is one their birthdays, we’ll always go visit their graves as a family. For me, I’ll always pray to them to watch over the family and keep us protected.

I’m raising awareness for the American Cancer Society this week because this disease is so common. People die from it every day. I just saw a story about Carson Wentz and a little Eagles fan who had cancer and passed away at 10 years old. It’s just a sad story. You always hear those stories, and those kids don’t get a chance to live their life and see what the world is about. They don’t have an opportunity like me or Carson Wentz had, because of cancer. There is only so much they can do. They fight as hard as they can, but a lot of them end up losing their battle. I just want to let them know that someone is out here who is thinking about them, praying for them and hoping they can overcome it and enjoy life.

Someday, I want to start my own foundation to help people with cancer. I’m trying to find the right place and the right time to do it. It’s definitely on my list of career goals. 

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