Andre Hal is now in remission after undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
The Texans safety was diagnosed on May 17, but didn't want his prognosis to keep him far from what he loved. His teammates and football.
"It was a tough time for his family, for us, his teammates," Kareem Jackson said. "We just wanted to try to support him as much as we could. To hear he's in remission now, we're all definitely excited about that. He's pretty much been here every day with us and was still working out, in meetings and stuff."
Hal, not yet cleared medically to practice, continued to attend meetings and games this season. When he was healthy enough, the fifth-year veteran began doing his individual workouts with trainers on the side field during the team's practice. Afterwards, he would walk over to the main practice field and encourage teammates. Players drew inspiration from seeing Hal battling cancer. And winning.
"It's big just because it shows you that life is so much bigger than football, but at the same time, he's still able to come out here and be around the game he loves," Johnathan Joseph said. "To go through what he went through and be participating with us, that just shows how he's committed to this team. He was always one of the first guys in the building, last guys to leave. He did extra when not asked to."
In June of 2014, former Texans offensive lineman David Quessenberry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Quessenberry and Hal may have had different treatments and recovery timelines, but their impact on the locker room has been just as powerful.
"Unfortunately, I've had two teammates who've had to go through things like this, but fortunately, I've had two guys who I can look to as inspiration for the rest of my life," Watt said. "Anything I ever go through, I can look at these two guys and unequivocally say that I can get through anything."
Deshaun Watson agrees. In high school, his mother was diagnosed with tongue cancer. The Texans starting quarterback knows all too well the struggles she faced and the joy in overcoming them.
"It's a blessing," Watson said. "It's awesome. I've dealt with that in my family – my mom, firsthand. She's beat it and been cancer-free for seven years. Having a teammate now go through the same situation and see him work, see him stay positive, see him stay strong – it's a blessing to me. It's a blessing to this whole team, especially for him and his family."
Hal is currently on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list and said hopes to return as early as this season.
Check out some of the best shots of safety Andre Hal.