Jim Kelly was inducted into the National Football League Hall Of Fame in 2002, his first year of eligibility. This weekend, Jim Kelly proved he was a Hall Of Famer in the game of life.
Kelly, 54, was diagnosed with cancer in his upper jaw, according to Sports Illustrated. After surgery to remove part of his upper jaw and fit him with a prosthetic piece, plus chemotherapy and radiation, all seemed to be healing well. However, Kelly has suffered a relapse, with the cancer dangerously close to his carotid artery, making surgery impossible. Kelly has recently completed 35 rounds of chemotherapy. Now, he and his family wait to see if the chemotherapy has indeed done its work, or if he will need more. Whichever happens, one thing is for certain; Kelly Tough will see him through.
Kelly and his family have seen some very difficult time in the recent years. Kelly’s cancer, its relapse, and perhaps the hardest of all, the loss of Kelly’s son, Hunter, at the age 8 of respiratory failure due to Krabbe’s disease, a degenerative disorder affecting the central and peripheral nervous system. Hunter was diagosed with Krabbe’s disease shortly after his birth in 1977, and was given just two years to live. Kelly and his family created the Hunter Hope Foundation, helping raise funds in the hopes of finding a cure for neurological-related diseases, according to USA Today.
Kelly followed his doctor’s orders to the letter, no matter the pain. Most times, the treatments would leave him with his mouth and throat hurting, and unable to produce saliva. Yet, he’s able to visit the kids at the Jim Kelly Football Camp in Williamsville, New York. He can even bark out a few orders and throw a few passes. But, after a while, he tires and returns to his golf cart. It’s part of the price to pay for the cure.
Kelly was able to, for a time, return to Canton, Ohio to witness his good friend and former teammate Andre Reed get inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Kelly was able to return to his golden jacket, his bronze bust, and all of those great memories of his playing days. The jacket was much looser than in days past, Kelly losing so much weight from the chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Kelly was able to hear Reed announce that the toughest player Reed ever knew was Kelly. Kelly was even able to hook up with Reed one more time on a pass from the back of the stage to the podium, followed by a congratulatory hug from Reed.
Now, Jim Kelly, wife Jill, and daughters Erin and Camryn, await word as to what is next. If Kelly’s past history tells us anything, it tells us he will fight all the way, no matter the odds. Nothing is over, not by a longshot. Kelly most conspicuous achievement is taking the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl appearances, having lost all four. No matter the outcome, Jim Kelly is, has been, and always will be, a winner. After all, he’s Kelly Tough.