IMAGE: Jeremy Sheppard

A Mid-Michigan football team held tryouts on Wednesday for its upcoming season.

One of the players hoping for a spot on the team is standing out for more than just his playing skills.

“I don’t suffer sickle cell, sickle cell has to suffer me,” said Jeremy Sheppard, football player.

Sheppard is 280 pounds of muscle and determination. He refuses to let the condition he was born with, sickle cell anemia, stop him from his dreams.

“It has to deal with me and the god I serve. I believe I’ve been healed by God and the crisis set me free. So for that reason I’m putting on display,” Sheppard said.

Sheppard is blitzing the debilitating disease by trying out for the Tri-City Stampede, a Saginaw football team, where competition is tough.

“There are guys who are former Saginaw Sting players, former college players, guys that excelled at the high school level. They’re just out there playing,” Tri-City Stampede Coach Jeri Orr said.

Sheppard said he can’t just have sickle cell and be on the team.

“I have to be good at it and show what I can do as well,” he said.

What he can do is inspire others living with sickle cell anemia. For most, football would seem out of the question. The disease causes extreme pain, weariness and even strokes.

“The one crisis I had, it was super bad. I was getting six to seven shots. I was fearing for my life. I was on pain medication around the clock. I remember I was in and out of the hospital,” Sheppard said.

Now Sheppard is in great shape and out of patience for sickle cell.

“I’m a whole different monster now,” Sheppard said.

A monster motivated to make the team.

“If you stay fit, if you eat clean, if you work hard, then nothing is impossible,” Sheppard said.

Some of the players found out they made the team Wednesday night and Sheppard was one of those guys!

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Digital Content Producer

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