Young men across the nation dream of one day making it to the NFL, and while some have more challenging obstacles in their way, former Oakland Raiders linebacker Neiron Ball's journey was truly different.
Prior to his sophomore season at the University of Florida, doctors discovered bleeding in Ball's brain, and underwent an emergency brain surgery. Miraculously, Ball overcame his life-threatening scare, and wound up being drafted by the Silver and Black three years later in the fifth-round of the 2015 NFL Draft; however, Ball wasn't out of the woods yet.
On September 16, 2018, Ball suffered a brain aneurysm and entered a medically induced coma, and has yet to come out of it.
When his brain bleed was first discovered in 2012, recently-signed Raiders tackle Trent Brown was there for Ball as a teammate and friend. The two both attended the University of Florida together, rooming together their senior year.
From that point on the two were inseparable.
"We were both from Georgia and going to a school in Florida, so that was kind of a connection we hit off the bat, and then we became roommates in our last year there," Brown told Raiders.com. "From there we just became an unbreakable bond between two guys that love each other. We became family."
After signing with the Raiders in free agency, Brown took to social media to dedicate his contract to his former teammate.
Following the signing, Brown elaborated on why dedicating his contract to Ball was important to him.
"'Cause he's my brother," he said after taking a brief pause. "Love him to death, it's been a tough time trying to cope with it. Going from talking to a guy every day, any break in the day we were on the phone with each other. To now just trying to find peace with the whole situation, but I think coming here kind of helping close a chapter for him and myself I feel like there's no better opportunity."
The same year Ball was drafted by the Raiders, Brown was selected in the seventh-round by the San Francisco 49ers. In honor of his former teammate, it's awesome to see Brown try and finish what Ball started in Northern California.