<img class="" style="float: right;" src="https:\/\/opedge.com\/Content\/OldArticles\/images\/2004-02_12\/Teenage-Football.jpg" width="219" height="306" hspace="4" vspace="4" \/>\r\n\r\n<b><i>Youre a 17-year-old football player, enjoying life and youth. Then you find out you have a rare, dangerous form of cancer that could claim your life. What do you do? How do you react?<\/i><\/b>\r\n\r\nJerried Rhodes, at the time an offensive lineman for the Mansfield, Texas, football team, met this challenge with courage and a determination that not only would he recover--he would also play football again.\r\n\r\nJerried's battle against the dreaded disease began in the eighth grade. Jerried had broken his right foot, and it didn't heal properly. There were times when the foot would swell painfully for several months, leaving him limping. However, in the fall of 2001, the pain had become so severe that Jerried could not complete the football season.\r\n\r\nWhat was happening? The news turned out to be grim. Jerried was\r\nsuffering from synovial sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of\r\ncancer that attacks the joints. This was the cancer that claimed\r\nthe life of actor Robert Urich in 2002.\r\n\r\n"In 25 seconds, everything changed," said Jerried's mother Rose\r\nTaylor, quoted in <i>The Dallas Morning News<\/i> May 16, 2002.\r\n"It felt like somebody punched me."\r\n\r\nThis wasn't the first time Jerried had faced death. When he was\r\nthree, he underwent open-heart surgery to correct a previously\r\nundetected birth defect. Surgeons inserted a plastic valve into his\r\naorta to regulate blood flow. "He should have had a stroke, but for\r\nsome reason he didn't," said his mother, quoted in the newspaper\r\narticle.\r\n\r\nAmputation seemed to be the avenue that would give Jerried the\r\nbest chance for survival, and so on January 8, Jerried's right leg\r\nwas amputated below the knee.\r\n\r\nJerried's warm heart led him to help another patient, a\r\n12-year-old boy who also lost a leg to synovial sarcoma. "Since the\r\nprocedure, Jerried has been in the hospital several hours a day\r\nspending time with his new friend," commented the newspaper\r\narticle.\r\n\r\nJerried did not give up his determination to return to a normal\r\nlife and the sport he loved. He and his father, Royce Rhodes,\r\ndesigned a weight-training program that Jerried, using a prosthetic\r\nleg, followed faithfully every day. He returned to school about\r\ntwo-and-a-half months later. And in September 2002, Jerried played\r\nhis first game since the amputation as Mansfield took on Bell High\r\nSchool in Hurst, Texas.\r\n\r\n"Fans who didn't know about Rhodes' condition probably would not\r\nhave noticed any difference between the six-foot, 215-lb. lineman\r\nand his teammates," said an article in <i>The Dallas Morning\r\nNews<\/i> September 15, 2002. "Rhodes moved with a slight limp, and\r\na small portion of his prosthetic leg was visible between his sock\r\nand pants, but otherwise he was just another player determined to\r\nlead Mansfield to victory."\r\n\r\nAlthough his team lost 28-24, Jerried earned an accolade from\r\nMansfield Head Coach Jimmy Burkholder. "This speaks volumes about\r\nhis character," Burkholder said, as quoted in <i>The Dallas\r\nMorning News<\/i> article. "He's got a heart the size of the\r\nstadium. He's a great kid who's fought through a lot of adversity.\r\nHe's going to be a great man."\r\n\r\n"Jerried is an inspiration," said Jim Cody, general manager of\r\nNew Options Sports, Dallas. "We are more than happy to supply\r\nJerried with all of his K55 suspension sleeves." And what is\r\nJerried doing now? He is attending Tarleton State University,\r\nStephenville, Texas--and still following his dreams.